Crime Stats South Africa 2020
Unfortunately, even after the dip in crime in early 2020, December stats show that crime is almost up to pre-lockdown levels, the South African Police (SAPS) and Stats SA reported in the second quarter of the 2020 / 2021 period (Q2 -2020/2021). The second quarter covers reported crimes committed between July and September 2020.
Although the figures are down from the comparative period in 2019, the upsurge in this year’s second-quarter stats is much higher than the first quarter April to June 2020 (Q1 -2020/2021) which was mostly during the heavily restricted level 5 lockdown.
During the first quarter’s level 5 lockdown, analysts noted that there had been a huge reduction in criminal activity compared to the normal crime levels during the last quarter January to March 2020 of the 2019 – 2020 period (Q4 2019/2020). The first quarter saw a 72% reduction in murders, 81% reduction in car hijacking and similar drops were recorded in reported assaults, attempted murder, robbery and rape.
As the country began to incrementally ease out of the heavily restricted lockdown, insurance and tracking companies reported that vehicle theft and hijacking were on the way back to the pre-lockdown levels.
The SA crime stats for Q2 2020 (1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020), according to police minister Bheki Cele reflected South Africa operating “under eased restrictions under the Disaster Management Act”. It was expected that as the lockdown restrictions eased and the country returned to normal, big drops in some crime categories were expected to disappear.
In Q2, contact crime increased by 50.3% at 135 821 up from 90 376 in Q1. Contact-related crimes increased by 40.6% at 26 991, up from 19 191 in Q1. Property-related crimes rose by 10.5% at 95 516 up from 86 410 in Q1. Other serious crimes rose by 32.2% at 352 277 up from 266 495 in Q1. The total public-reported cases rose by 32.0% at 610 605 up from 462 472 in Q1. Crime detected as a result of police action rose by 67.9% at 42 121 up from 25 093 in Q1. Total cases reported rose by 33.9% at 652 726 up from 487 565 in Q1.
In comparing Q2 2019 to Q2 2020, Stats SA noted that community-reported crimes, robberies such as cash-in-transit heists and residential premises saw a sizeable increase in Q2 2020. As criminals try to play catch up, as the festive season encroached, other increases in reported crime were in commercial crimes, car hijacking, attempted murder and a single bank robbery.
While the country was still easing out of lockdown, other crime categories were not up to 2019 -2020 period levels yet and fewer cases were reported. The most noteworthy of these were fewer burglaries and theft out of vehicles because most people were still at home.
With a massive increase of 60% recorded in cash in transit heists with 64 this year and 40 in Q2 2019, Cele said it was “clear [that] armed gangs targeting cash vans, were 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.”
During Q2 2020, while there were still some lockdown restrictions on alcohol sales and the drug industry was affected by closed border posts, a whopping 70% drop in crimes – from 26 079 in Q2 2019 to 7 828 in Q2 2020 – was recorded in the category driving under the influence and drug-related crimes.
Of Q2 2019 versus Q2 2020 increases, the criminal trend for this quarter is acquiring cash from cash-in-transit heists and goods from commercial sources. Truck hijacking rose by 31.7% from 312 in Q2 2019 to 411 in Q2 2020. Commercial crime rose by 2.1% from 21 518 in Q2 2019 to 21 978 in Q2 2020.
Attempted murder rose by 1.8%, up from 4 856 in Q2 2019 to 4 941 in Q2 2020, while murder decreased by 6.2%, down from 5 446 in Q2 2019 to 5 107 in Q2 2020. Even crime staples were down like car hijacking which dropped by 1.6% from 4 882 in Q2 2019 to 4 802 in Q2 2020. On social media rape and gender-based violence coverage increased but a decrease of 16.8% in sexual offences were recorded with a drop from 13 730 in Q2 2019 to 11 423 in Q2 2020.
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