south africa minister cele
South African Minister of Police, Cele. Photo: SANews

Residential robberies are on the increase as criminals in South Africa try to make up for lost time during Lockdown, Police Minister Bheke Cele said on Friday, as he released the Quarter Two crime statistics (July to September) of the 2020 / 2021 financial year.

With the festive season on the horizon, Cele said criminals are trying to make up for the time lost during the ‘crime holiday’ experienced in the first quarter of the financial year. “This is demonstrated by the increase in the country’s most feared crimes, which are residential robberies,” he said.

“While many citizens are still working from home due to the Nationwide Lockdown, incidents of home invasions have increased by 8.5%. On the other hand, cases of business robberies have declined by the same percentage.”

The latest figures are a stark contrast to low crime statistics the Minister released in August for the first quarter of the financial year, which had been “largely attributed to the fact that the country was at the time under lockdown level 4 and 3. People stayed at home and there were more boots on the ground.” Cele said law enforcement had been aware that the “rosy picture” would not last forever, as the country opened up for business again.

Latest South African Crime Stats between July and Sep:

  • 5 107 people were murdered – which is 339 less than last year, and the lowest figures for the past four second quarters
  • From a sample of 4 290 murder dockets, analysis revealed that 1 992 of the murders occurred in public spaces such as beaches, parks, streets or open fields.

arguments and misunderstandings remain the main drivers of murder

  • “Over 900 people were killed in their homes or the homes of those who ended their lives. Alarmingly, arguments and misunderstandings remain the main drivers of murder,” the statistics reveal.
  • Robberies, vigilantism and gang conflicts also feature high on the list of some of the causes of murder.
  • The consumption and abuse of alcohol is a causative factor in hundreds of murder cases recorded in the second quarter.
  • Liquor, Cele said, was also involved in 829 assault GBH [grievous bodily harm] cases and 747 rape cases, while 179 attempts of murder were alcohol induced.
  • “Over 1 000 incidents of murder, attempted murder, rape and assault took place inside or outside liquor outlets such as bars, taverns, shebeens and nightclubs,” Cele said, proving the effect of alcohol abuse.
  • Increase in residential robberies by 8.5%, but a similar decrease in business robberies.
  • The third leg of the so-called trio crimes – car jackings – shows a decrease of 1.6%.

“These crime statistics we are releasing today continue to vindicate our actions as the SAPS to clamp down on illegal alcohol trading,” said Cele.

Cash-in-transit heists

The scramble to ‘catch up’ by criminals is also reflecting in the rise of cash-in-transit heist figures – a whopping 60% increase.

“It is clear armed gangs targeting cash vans, are becoming more desperate and ruthless as the year comes to a close. These criminals are stopping at nothing to carry out their criminal acts, often doing so in public spaces near innocent bystanders,” said Cele.

He assured the country that the SAPS is not taking the brazen criminal acts lightly, saying they have already made breakthroughs in taking down syndicates and recouping some of the stolen money. Cele said it was encouraging that the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) continues to make inroads by cornering and taking down the gangs.

Stock theft

On stock theft, Cele said this remained a serious problem that needs serious attention from multiple government departments.

In the three months of reporting, there were 7 339 cases of stock theft countrywide.

About 26 322 sheep were stolen in the last three months.

“Over 14 000 cattle were also stolen and found themselves in abattoirs and on to the plates of unsuspecting South Africans. This crime has also recorded a decrease in all provinces, except for the Northern Cape,” said Cele.

The Minister used the occasion to salute police officers for serving with “honour and diligence”.

“I believe there is a war against our officers of the law and we must be ready for the fight,” he said, urging that this form of attack on the State should not deter the SAPS. –