South Africa: Almost 230 000 people charged for Breaking lockdown regulations

indafrica May 23, 2020
Updated 2020/05/23 at 2:24 PM

Almost 230 000 people have been charged for contravening lockdown regulations since they were enforced on 26 March, Police Minister Bheki Cele has revealed.

Cele, who briefed the media on Friday, said the number of people charged for breaking the regulations had almost doubled as the country started moving into Level 4 of the lockdown.

“At one point towards the end of April when we were still on Level 5, we had about 107 000 cases opened with 118 000 people charged for contravention of the lockdown regulations. In just over a month, this number has more than doubled and is almost at 230 000 for contraventions,” he added.

Some contraventions included:
Liquor-related offences – 12 372.
Gathering-related offences – 11 643.
Residence-related offences – 41 0134.
Cross-border offences – 11 205.
Business-related offences – 58 036.
Transport-related offences – 5 137.
Misrepresentation/statement to deceive – 1 428.

Cele said the provinces with the highest number of arrests almost mirrored the provincial infection statistics, with the Western Cape recording the most arrests and highest number of confirmed cases of Covid-19, followed by the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Those arrested have either been issued with fines or released with a warning, while some have been released on bail.

People accused of more serious offences were before the respective courts in the country, he added.

Serious and violent crime
Cele again compared statistics of crimes committed since the start of the lockdown with the corresponding period for 2019, which showed a significant decrease in contact crimes, including murder and rape.

According to the statistics, murders were down 63.9%, with 1 072 murders recorded between 27 March and 19 May this year, compared to the 2 970 murders registered during the same period in 2019.

Rape incidents have also decreased during the lockdown, with 919 cases recorded since the lockdown started, compared to 5 350 during the same period in 2019, leading to an 82.8% decrease.

Attempted murder, assault with grievous bodily harm and robbery with aggravating circumstances have also shown a decline.

Since the lockdown started, 774 carjackings, 1 189 robberies at non-residential premises and 1 539 robberies at residential premises have been reported. Trio crimes have also shown a dramatic decrease when compared to the statistics for the same period in 2019.

“When we compare incidents of cash-in-transit robberies during the lockdown to the same period on 2019, the number has dropped remarkably from 26 to only four incidents,” Cele said.

“Although the lockdown figures for serious and violent crime are still lower in comparison to 2019, we have noted an increase in hijackings especially if we compare the first two weeks of Level 5 to the first two weeks of Level 4.

“Most hijacking incidents were recorded in Gauteng followed by the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.”

Gender-based violence
Cele also clarified the increase of distress calls made to the GBV Command Centre, which does not necessarily translate into reported cases.

“Actually, when we refer to gender-based violence, these would cover all crimes against women and children as well as the LGBTQI community.

“Therefore, for purposes of measuring the impact of the lockdown on homes and families, we use cases of domestic violence.”

He said domestic violence referred to incidents such as sexual assault, rape, pointing of a firearm, murder, attempted murder, assault and assault GBH, kidnapping and in such instances, the victim and suspect usually have or had a relationship.

Cele added there had been a sharp decrease in cases of domestic violence during the lockdown.

Only 6 651 cases of domestic violence have been reported since the lockdown started, compared to the 21 033 cases reported during the same period in 2019.

“The numbers are in reference to reported cases. Therefore, there is a possibility that there could be victims at home who have not or cannot report to the police for different reason,” he said.

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