Police Minister Bheki Cele has announced that over 230,000 cases have been opened for violations of COVID-19 lockdown regulations as of 19 May 2020.
This is more than double the number which had been opened at the end of April, when South Africa was still under lockdown alert level 5.
During that month, 107,000 cases were opened against 118,000 people, the minister noted.
Cele also detailed a big decrease in several types of contact and trio crimes recorded since the lockdown started on 27 March up until 19 May 2020.
When compared to the period between 29 March and 21 May 2019 , the number of cases of murder was down by 63.9%, rape decreased by 82.9%, and assault dropped by 80.4%.
Reported cases of carjackings decreased by 70.7%, robberies at non-residential premises fell by 60.2%, and robberies at residential premises were down by 49.1%.
Cele said although reported cases remained low, the numbers of certain crime categories increased slightly when compared to previous figures released on 20 April.
He added there was an increase in the smuggling and illegal sale of substances that have been banned under lockdown regulations.
“We have also observed an increase in smuggling of contraband (liquor and tobacco) between South Africa’s land borders with Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, as well as the sale of these products in the black market,” Cele stated.
“Criminals are opportunistic. Organised crime syndicates have taken advantage of the lockdown, especially on the ban of alcohol and cigarettes, and have expanded their illegal trade into the illegal market of illicit and counterfeit alcohol and cigarette sales,” he said.
Police members with COVID-19
The government’s latest figures showed that 611 police officers had tested positive for COVID-19 to date, of which 101 have already recovered.
Most positive cases were recorded in the Western Cape, with 441 members confirmed to be infected with the virus.
A total of six officers have the virus, Cele stated.
The tables below show the decrease in crime over the lockdown period compared with a similar timeframe in 2019, as revealed by the minister.