Police Minister Bheki Cele released the crime stats for the period spanning October – December 2020 on Friday 19 February 2021, announcing that murder and sexual assault cases have risen year-on-year. A 6.6% increase in murders was reported with sexual assault cases up by 5%.
The data characterises a period in which South Africa’s lockdown regulations were at their most relaxed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Cele insisted that there is much work to do to ensure the safety of the public and especially to stem the scourge of gender based violence (GBV).
“The national crime statistics from October to December 2020 do not paint a good picture, and hence force us as the Saps to dig deep and put the shoulder to the wheel.”
Murder, rape incidents on the up
Cele said that Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), the Free State and the Western Cape are the provinces that are of the highest concern to law enforcement agencies, with murder cases increasing by over 10% in those areas.
Overall, 389 more people were killed compared to the corresponding period in the previous financial year, an – most disturbingly – 193 of these murders were the result of domestic violence.
Over 12 000 people were raped between October and December last year, with Cele saying that most of these heinous incidents took place in the victim’s home.
“Over 4900 of the rape incidents took place at the home of the victim or the home of the rapist,” he said, adding that “570 were domestic violence related and 547 of rape cases in this category, involved female victims and 23 were males.”
“We are on a daily basis, improving our services and responses, at station level. As the Saps we are motivated that numerous life sentences have been handed down for crimes committed against women and children.”
Farm-related crime increases
The South African Police Service (SAPS) dealt with 18 incidents of murder that took place on farms and smallholdings around the country during the three month period, and Cele reported that 19 people were killed in these incidents.
He said that most of these crimes were committed by criminals, but said that among these incidents were cases in which farm owners or farm managers had committed the crimes.
Cele also reported that there have been 50 124 cases of assault opened with police from October to December, and conceded that this figure is indicative of a shadow of violence threatening the safety of the South African public. He added that the majority of these cases had occurred due to alcohol abuse.
“Assault figures show that violence stalks our society and in many cases the violence is aggravated by alcohol abuse,” said Cele.
Cele to oversee operations in worst affected provinces
Aggravated robberies – such as hijackings – increased by 7% year-on-year for this period, along with residential robberies. There were 77 more home break-ins reported in 2020 compared to the previous year.
Business robberies decreased significantly, with 374 less businesses robbed during this time.
Cele said that police will now focus on crime hotspots to try and remedy the ongoing threat of crime in specific provinces.
“As the police ministry and police management, we have taken a decision to have operational oversight in the four provinces and monitor them closely. We expect a turn around plan to be adopted and executed urgently and effectively. Failure to do so must result in consequences,” he said.