South Africa


Crime holiday is over as Cele’s police failed to stem sharp rise in serious crime

Crime holiday is over as Cele’s police failed to stem sharp rise in serious crime
Police Minister Bheki Cele. (Photo: Jaco Marais)

The quarterly crime statistics for October to December 2020, show a rise in murder, rape and assault cases. This is a bleak picture compared to the drop in crime recorded during the hard lockdown. Police Minister Bheki Cele said that the figures showed gaps in policing and SAPS would have to pull up its socks to address the problem.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said the latest crime statistics painted a “bleak picture” as murder, rape and assault levels went up during the fourth quarter of 2020 from the beginning of October to the end of December. 

These crimes occurred during Level 1 through to adjusted Level 3 of the extended lockdown. 

Speaking at a media briefing on Friday, 19 February Cele said the statistics laid bare policing gaps, that SAPS needed to reflect and pull up its socks to deal with the problem. This was in stark contrast to the “crime holiday” he described in response to the unprecedented drop in crime levels between April and June 2020 during the hard lockdown. 

Murder statistics rose by 6.6%, rape increased by 1.5% with overall sexual offences going up by 1.8%. Assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm rose by 1.4% while common assault increased by 0.6% compared to the same period in the previous financial year. 

“From the side of the police I do concede that we will have to… put our house in order,” said Cele. 

Mpumalanga province recorded the highest murder rate increase of 13,7%. Kraaifontein followed by Delft in the Western Cape had the most number of murder cases.

The top four motives for murder were: arguments, robberies at a household and businesses, mob justice and gang-related killings.

More than 12,200 rape cases were reported between October and December 2020 of which, close to 5,000 happened at the victim’s or the perpetrator’s home. Over 1,300 rape cases were linked to alcohol consumption, with a small number happening at shebeens. The alcohol ban was reinstated in late December, near the end of the reporting period for the statistics.  

Cele conceded that SAPS continued to handle gender-based violence cases poorly. 

“I received so many calls… to say police are not treating well the cases of rape and the cases of sexual abuse,” he said. 

The minister briefly announced that a tool had been developed to monitor how gender-based violence cases are handled at the various stations. Police have been accused of subjecting victims to secondary victimisation where in some cases complainants are encouraged to go home to try and negotiate disputes with the perpetrator. 

Inanda and Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape’s Lusikisiki police stations recorded the highest incidents of rape. Inanda and Umlazi’s rape figures have remained high since the 2019/20 statistics were reported where Inanda was identified as South Africa’s “rape capital”. 

Cele said between October and December, 129 life sentences were handed down in response to gender-based violence and femicide. 

Regarding assault, Cele said many cases were aggravated by alcohol abuse, with more than 50,000 cases opened with police. In the case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, close to 6,000 cases were alcohol-related. 

He raised concerns over Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and the Western Cape, which each recorded over 10% increases in murder. 

“As the Police Ministry and police management, we have taken a decision to have operational oversight in the four provinces and monitor them closely,” said Cele. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    cliche after cliche. So much sock pulling and housekeeping we ought to be squeaky clean but are just the same old same old abusive and patriarchal image of its bosses.

  • Michael Fridjhon says:

    I’m curious to know how anyone can say with certainty “Over 1,300 rape cases were linked to alcohol consumption.” Did the perpetrator breathalyse before or after committing the act? Even more remarkably, were 1300 such perpetrators arrested immediately and then tested? Looks like some kind of slur on alcohol – a favourite strategy of one of our most incompetent ministers – in preference to getting on with his job.

  • Coen Gous says:

    The rise in serious crime is not totally unexpected. This, I believe is mainly due to 3 factors. 1 The significant impact of the depressed economy, in part indirectly caused by Covid-19, and the sometimes absurd restrictions of movement imposed by government, causing job losses, and massive frustrations endured by citizens. 2. The tendency by many senior government to appear almost untouchable by the epidemic and the poor economy. 3. The police simply slipped up by ignoring many cases of potential serious crimes incidents and placing undue emphasis on enforcing lockdown and other Covid-19 regulations, with the Minister of Police standing in front of the queue.

    • Hiram C Potts says:

      Agree. While the police are zealously enforcing some of the idiotic lockdown regulations & while the minister crows about their great successes in this field, people are being, assaulted, raped & murdered. Incompetent buffoons led by a clown.

  • Trevor Pope says:

    The lockdown is a golden opportunity to correlate the various measures with the effects on crimes. I hope some researchers have access to all the stats, and can draw some conclusions. It could inform some evidence- based policy-making to spur some real improvements. (Restricted opening hours for bottle stores, prohibitions on serving drunk people, etc, as examples). That would be something!

  • Jon Quirk says:

    So even when all law-abiding citizens were in lockdown the police, concentrating all efforts on keeping us off beaches, could not control crime? That in this period, whilst criminals destroyed and looted public assets (train stations and tracks, Kruger Park lodges, schools, libraries) and flooded the country with contraband cigarettes and booze, others raped the public purse with fraudulent PPE contracts, even then, when most of the country was quiet, quiescent and law-abiding and there were 78,000 armed troops to help them – even then the police were unable to control crime?

    Cele is a disgrace and should be fired; even in a cabinet of incompetents he stands out.

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