South Africa is a country that has amongst the highest crime rates in the world. The latest crime statistics for the second quarter were released on the 13th of November 2020 and they indicate just how badly the country struggled to even remotely eradicate its problems with crime.
Police Minister Bheki Cele addressed the nation to reveal the crime statistics that reflect the crimes that occurred between the 1st of July 2020 to the end of September 2020. There were some areas that saw a decrease, but it is evident to see that there needs to be more improvement in some areas. Most of the decreases in crime were due to the fact that the country was under lockdown level 4 and 3. This meant that most people were at home and there was greater police visibility. This did not give criminals the space to roam around and commit crimes.
These crimes include murder, attempted murder and sexual offenses as well as assault and robbery. These crimes decreased by 11.6%. The recorded murder cases between July and September 2020 indicated that 5 107 people were murdered in South Africa. 1 992 of those murders occurred in public spaces like parks, streets or beaches.
More than 900 people were killed in their homes or homes of the perpetrators. Most of the murders were due to arguments and misunderstandings as well as robberies and gang conflicts. Compared to last year’s figures, 339 less people were killed this year than during the same period last year. There was a 6.2% decrease in murder cases in the second quarter.
Attempted murder cases increased by 1.8%, assault to do grievous bodily harm saw a decline of 12.4%, common assault decreased by 5.5%, common robbery saw a major decrease of 25.3% and robbery with aggravating circumstances decreased by 13.0%.
There was 16.8% decrease in all sexual offenses – however, most of the sexual offenses and assaults were committed by people that the victims know or live with, whether this is the same living space or neighborhood. 8 922 rape cases were reported during July and September 2020 and they indicated a 18.8% decline in these cases.
The majority of people who were raped were women; showing how unsafe it is for women in this country. Most rape cases occurred in public spaces like parks and beaches and the province that had the most rape cases was Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Attempted sexual offenses decreased by 9.4% while contact sexual offenses saw an increase of 3.2%.
Cele gave a warning that there might be an increase in crime during the festive season as most criminals will want to make up for the time that they lost during the first quarter of the year when they were stricter lockdown measures.
There was an increase in residential robberies and this was due to the fact that most people were working from home, robberies at residential premises increased by 8.5% while robberies at non-residential premises declined by 8.5%.
Carjacking declined by 1.6%, truck hijackings however saw an increase of 31.7%. There has been a spike in courier vehicle theft. The vehicles are sometimes later recovered , however the goods are missing. Most of these vehicle hijackings are taken by force. Gauteng has had the largest number of courier vehicle theft than any other province.
Cash-in-transit heists increased by 60% which shows how desperate and ruthless armed gangs are and how they will stop at nothing to carry out their criminal acts. There was one recorded bank robbery case in the second quarter.
These crimes include arson, malicious injury to property and these crimes decreased by 3.7%. Arson decreased by 6.7%, malicious damage to property decreased by 3.6%, all property related crimes decreased by 18.7% where there was a 6% decrease in burglaries at non-residential premises and a 21.3% decrease in burglaries at residential premises. Theft of motor vehicle and motor cycle decreased by 17.2% and theft out or from motor vehicle also saw a major decrease of 25.3%.
There might have been a 6.8% decrease in stock theft, but it is still a crime that is concerning and that needs to be addressed. During the period of July and September 2020, there were 7 339 reported cases of stock theft in the country. 26 322 sheep were stolen and this crime has decreased in all provinces, except for the Northern Cape.
South Africa has always had a problem with alcohol consumption. The abuse of alcohol has been a causative factor in some of the crimes that were committed such as murder, assault and Gender Based Violence (GBV). Alcohol was involved in 747 rape cases, 829 assault GBV cases and 179 attempts of murder were due to alcohol abuse.
Thousands of incidences of murder, attempted murder, rape, and assault occurred either in or outside liquor outlets like nightclubs, bars, taverns or shebeens. These figures reflect the unhealthy relationship that South Africans have with alcohol.
Cele noted that most GBV cases went unreported to the police as some perpetrators are protected by their families and friends. Some victims might be afraid to speak out or even confide in their families. There are victims who are blamed by their families when they want to report the cases or face intimidation or victimization from incompetent officers. These officers either wrongfully interrogate them or blame them for the violence. Some police officers lack the adequate training to assist victims of GBV.
There was a decrease in most crimes in the second quarter which the lockdown level 4 and 3 could have been a major contributing factor. It is important to remain vigilant, however, especially as we approach the festive season as most criminals will want to make up for lost time that they lost during hard lockdown measures.