Crime levels before South Africa’s lockdown – and what they look like now

Police minister, Bheki Cele says that the introduction of the coronavirus lockdown and supporting measures has resulted in a significant drop in crime levels across the country.

Cele said that the heightened visibility of police, reinforced by the deployment of the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) and other variables such as the prohibition of the sale of liquor have also all contributed to the decline.

This is especially apparent when comparing the country’s crime statistics between 27 March – 20 April 2020 to the same period last year, he said.

The below tables show how South Africa’s major contact and robbery crimes statistics over the course of the lockdown, compare to the same period from last year.

Contact crime

Crime 29 March – 20 April 2019 29 March – 20 April 2020 Case difference Percentage change
Murder 1 542 432  -1 110 -72.0%
Rape 2 908  371 -2 537 -87.2%
Attempted murder 1 300  443 -857 -65.9%
Assault 11 876 1 758 -10 118  -85.2%
Robbery with aggr. circumstances  6 654 2 022 -4 632 -69.6%

Trio crimes

Crime 29 March – 20 April 2019 29 March – 20 April 2020 Case difference Percentage change
Carjacking 1 146 219 -927  -80.9%
Robbery at non-residential premises 1 345 464 -881 -65.5%
Robbery at residential premises 1 437 664 -773 -53.8%

Looking at the contravention of the lockdown regulations, Cele said that by the end of the initial 21-day lockdown there were almost 107,000 cases opened and over 118,000 people charged.

The cases include:

  • Liquor related offences;
  • Illegal gatherings;
  • Failure to confine to place of residence;
  • Cross border movement;
  • Business-related;
  • Transport-related;
  • Misrepresentation of statement to deceive.

From those arrested, Cele said that 42,388 are before different courts across the country, while the rest have either been granted bail, issued with fines, or released with a warning to appear before court.

“At this stage it needs to be emphasised that the only permit that may be obtained from the police, which can also be obtained from a magistrate, is for travelling across provincial boundaries to and from a funeral. Police are not responsible for any other lockdown permits,” he said.

He added that the country’s lockdown regulations remain in full effect despite the ‘official’ end of the shutdown on 30 April.

“In relation to the selling of liquor, while at this stage there is practically only one more week left of the lockdown, members of the public are encouraged to continue to adhere to the regulations. The ban on the sale of liquor is still in place.”


Read: 131 public officials arrested for violating South Africa’s Covid-19 regulations

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Crime levels before South Africa’s lockdown – and what they look like now