Police Minister Bheki Cele says the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have had the most cases of the contravention of lockdown regulations. Cele says more than 230 000 people have been charged for lockdown breaches, with Western Cape recording both the highest number of coronavirus infections and arrests during the lockdown period.
He says towards the end of April while the country was still on Level 5 lockdown, about 107 000 cases were opened with 118 000 people charged for contravention of the lockdown regulations.
The minister says the number of contravention has now doubled to almost 230 000. The contraventions include:
- Liquor related offences and cigarette-related offences
- Illegal gatherings
- Failure to confine to place of residence
- Cross border and inter-provincial movement
- Transport related offences
- Fraudulent or no permits
Cele says that those arrested were either issued with fines or released on a warning. The minister has also applauded the taxi industry for improving in terms of compliance with lockdown regulations.
The Minister said in a statement that criminals have taken advantage of the lockdown to expand their illegal activities; especially concerning the ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes.
“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 said.
He added that the SANDF has confiscated illegal alcohol and cigarettes at SA borders to the value of R1.07 million.
GBV and domestic violence
Cele says that as opposed to the decline in April during Level 5 lockdown, serious and violent crimes have gone slightly up. He says this could be due to the relaxation in the lockdown restrictions.
The Minister says that, in comparison to the period from 27 March to 21 May, domestic violence crimes have decreased from 21 033 in 2019, to 6 651 cases of domestic violence during the lockdown (2020); a 68.4% decrease.
Cele has welcomed the long sentences handed down to two rapists on Thursday. A 66-year old Cape Town man, Herman Harker, was handed 15 life sentences plus 30 years for rape and abduction. A former police captain was found guilty and given a life sentence for raping his then 10-year-old daughter 18 years ago.
The Minister says he has noted media reports that gender-based violence has gone up during the lockdown. He, however, says that the increase is due to the number of distressed calls made and not necessarily reported cases.
“Actually, when we refer to gender-based violence, these would cover all crimes against women and children as well as the LGBTQI community. For instance, if a woman walking to the shops is mugged and robbed at gunpoint of her personal belongings by a random suspect, that incident is recorded as a crime against a woman and therefore falls under GBV,” Cele said in a statement.
The Minister has encouraged people to report cases of or suspected cases of domestic violence.
We urge neighbours who are often aware of, or have reason to suspect violent domestic disruptions, to alert the police. Friends, relatives or someone within the shared residence may also alert the police about the abuse on behalf of the victim. #EndGBV pic.twitter.com/fsAcREYmj5
— South African Government (@GovernmentZA) May 22, 2020
COVID-19 infection in police and SANDF members
Cele says that so far, 611 police and soldiers have tested positive for COVID-19, with the Western Cape leading provincially with 411 cases followed by the Eastern Cape with 47 cases.
101 members have recovered from the virus.
Sadly, six members have died from the virus, the most recent being two members who died in the Western Cape on Thursday. Cele passed on his condolences to the loved ones of those who lost their lives.
“The Ministry of Police and the Management of the SAPS reiterate their support of all members of law enforcement agencies in the SAPS, the National and Provincial Traffic Police, and Metro Police Departments,” the Minister said.
In the video below, Bheki Cele briefs the media on adherence and compliance to lockdown regulations.
Below is the full statement by Bheki Cele on adherence and compliance to lockdown regulations.
Below are Level-4 lockdown regulations: