While various crimes saw an increase in the first quarter of the 2021/22 financial year, police minister Bheki Cele said comparing the most recently released statistics with those from the same period last year would be misleading.
“The first quarter of the 2020/21 financial year coincided with the level 5 lockdown that kept almost everyone indoors and most businesses closed including taverns, liquor outlets, night clubs, sporting activities and places of entertainment, which are generally contributors to causative factors of crime,” Cele said when the latest statistics were released last week.
“The never-seen-before pleasant picture of last year was compared to a normal period of 2019 and hence the comparison was distorted and very skewed.
“Today, we are in the same space of comparing the incomparable.”
According to Cele, the sudden rise in various classes of crime was due to the overall easing of lockdown restrictions during the last year.
“In the first quarter, the sub-categories of crimes such as contact crimes, sexual offences, aggravated robberies, contact-related and property-related crimes have recorded never- seen-before double digit increases.
“Ordinarily, this would have been catastrophic but I assure the nation, this is not the case.”
During the first quarter of the latest financial year, contact crimes such as murder, attempted murder, sexual offences and all categories of assault saw a 60.6% increase.
There was a 72.4% increase in rape cases, along with a 47.1% increase in sexual offences.
Ordinarily, this would have been catastrophic but I assure the nation, this is not the case.
Meanwhile, all property-related crimes increased by 6%, though Cele noted that cases of stock theft had decreased by 8% thanks to increased efforts by the SAPS.
The Eastern Cape saw the biggest decline in stock theft, with cases dropping by a record 22.4% across the province.
The ‘trio crimes’ – carjacking, house robberies and business robberies – increased by 92.2% in the first quarter, while there were 46 cash-in-transit (CIT) heists recorded, an increase of 27 cases.
Despite Cele’s assurances that the latest statistics are not as serious as they first sound, opposition parties have still been vocal in their criticism.
“These statistics show that the brutal criminal onslaught against women and children in the Eastern Cape has shown little to no signs of stopping,” said DA shadow safety and security MEC Bobby Stevenson.
“Violent crime has become entrenched in our society, and it needs to be rooted out.”
This was echoed by the IFP’s spokesperson on police, Zandile Majozi.
“The time for business as usual is over. The tough talk and policing rhetoric must take a back seat so that we can restore the lost trust and faith in our security and policing agencies,” Majozi said.