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230,000 Charged For Lockdown Breaches, Big Drop In Contact Crimes, Says Cele

Police Minister Bheki Cele at a justice, crime prevention and security cluster briefing on the elections on 13 May 2019. Picture: @SAPoliceService/Twitter

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Police Minister Bheki Cele said that more than 230,000 thousand people had been charged for lockdown breaches so far.

The minister was briefing the media on the levels of compliance with the country’s lockdown regulations on Friday.

Cele said that at the end of April, while on level 5 there were 107,000 complaints to the police and 118,000 people charged with contravening regulations.

He said that in a month, this number had more than doubled to about 230,000 for contraventions that included liquor and tobacco-related offenses, as well as illegal gatherings amongst others.

“The highest number almost mirrors the provincial infection rates, with the Western Cape in the lead, followed by the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Gauteng,” said Cele.

The minister said that the arrested persons were issued with fines or released with warnings while some were out on bail and cases relating to more serious offenses were before the respective courts around the country.

SLIGHT INCREASE IN CRIME SINCE LEVEL 4

The police minister said that since the relaxation of the lockdown regulations to level 4, the police had noted a slight increase in crimes not related to lockdown regulations.

“In the contact crimes, we will compare that same period last year or outside lockdown and inside the lockdown. For instance, 26 March 2019 to 27 March 2020 we had murder which was 2,790, but under lockdown it’s 1,072.”

The lockdown restrictions had brought on a slight increase in crime.

Other crimes and the drop in figures:

  • Murder: 1,898 down (down by 63.9%)
  • Rape: 4,431 down (down by 82.8%)
  • Attempted murder: 1439 down (down by 56%)
  • Assault GBH 17,796 down (down by 80.4%)
  • Robbery with aggravating circumstances: 9,427 down (down by 63.6%)

The Police Minister said they had noted an increase in hijackings, especially when compared to the first two weeks of level 5 to the first two weeks of level 4, with Gauteng in the lead.

“Let me take this opportunity to commend police of the arrest on 19 May 2020 of four suspects who have been linked to 18 other hijacks, some of which happened during the lockdown.”

‘JUST WAIT’ – CELE SAYS ABOUT SALE OF ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO

Minister Cele said that he would leave it to President Cyril Ramaphosa and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to make an announcement on the sale of alcohol.

He added that the matter had been discussed in the national command council meetings.

“I am a member of the NCC, I am not the NCC. The announcement will be made, but Cele doesn’t make an announcement. The president or the minister responsible for the regulations will. Just wait. Ours is to enforce what would have been decided upon.”

On the allegations of there being a huge increase in the sale of illicit alcohol and tobacco products, Cele said he wanted to know what the measurement was to call the increase “huge”.

He confirmed that there was illicit trade during the lockdown period.

“There are big numbers of people that are arrested on that and there are thousands of litres, if not millions, that have been confiscated – that includes illicit cigarettes.”

The minister said that this problem with the illicit cigarette trade did not start during COVID-19 activities.

“It should not come as if the illicit trade of cigarettes came about because there is COVID-19. Industry, government and law enforcement know we have ongoing work dealing with this problem. This also includes alcohol.”

EWN

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