Serious and violent crimes have dropped considerably in South Africa since the implementation of a national lockdown over coronavirus, Police Minister Bheki Cele has said.
Murder cases have dropped from 326 to 94; rape cases dropped from 699 to 101; and cases of assault with intention to inflict grievous bodily harm dropped from 2,673 to 456, the minister said, comparing the first week of the lockdown to the same period in 2019.
Trio crimes, which refer to car/truck hijacking, business robberies and house robberies, dropped from 8,853 to 2,098, Mr Cele said. Trio crimes are arguably the most violent crimes where the perpetrators are commonly armed with illegal firearms, he said.
Cele attributed the drop in crimes to, among other factors, the prohibition of the sale and movement of liquor during the lockdown.
South Africa imposed the 21-day lockdown on midnight March 26 in a bid to stem the rapid spread of Covid-19. Cele said that complaints over gender-based violence remained high.
Over 2,300 complaints have been registered since the beginning of the lockdown on March 27 until March 31 and from these, 148 suspects were charged, he said. The number of complaints against the police during the lockdown also dropped, according to Cele.
“The decrease in the number of complaints which were high over the first days of the lockdown reflects stabilization and confirms that people are now beginning to understand the lockdown and are complying with the regulations, and that people are now cooperating with the members of the law enforcement entities,” he said.
The past week was generally characterised by long queues at grocery stores and social grant pay points, he added.
Cele anticipated improved adherence to the regulations, particularly in relation to restriction of movement of persons and traffic on the roads this week.