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Massive Surge in Crimes for South Africa

South Africa’s move to an adjusted level 1 lockdown and the upcoming festive season means South Africans should brace for an enormous surge in crime, especially cash-in-transit (CIT) robberies, experts have warned.

Data published by the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) shows that CIT robberies across the country decreased significantly due to the level 5 lockdown in April and May of 2020. Once restrictions were lifted however, this type of crime increased again by 22% as criminals could move with fewer restrictions and fear of roadblocks.

Annie Kok, a research assistant at the UCT Centre of Criminology, told eNCA that the number of criminal incidents increased by more than 50% in Q3 and Q4 2020, following a similar easing of restrictions. Kok said that the only way this can be combatted is through sophisticated intelligence, actionable strategies and coordination of all stakeholders involved.

Whal Bartmann, the Fidelity Services Group chief executive, said that the company is taking steps to prepare for increasing incidents, including additional backup forces and air support. Bartmann added that Fidelity has a strong relationship with the South African Police Services (SAPS) and runs operations alongside them.

Shock increase

A further jump in crime could be bleak news after South Africa reported a shocking increase in crime statistics in Q1 2021/2022, with a significant increase in cases reported across several crime categories. Police minister Bheki Cele said that the double-digit increase in most crime categories was attributable to the adjusted lockdown levels and distorted crime trends.

The police minister said that while the country had seen a ‘holiday from crime’ during the higher level 5, 4 and 3 lockdowns, the move to lighter restrictions had led to ‘exaggeratedly high’ crime levels.

“While we will not sweep the high and unnatural figures under the carpet, we will instead bring to the fore a holistic picture of comparing the 2021/2022 Q1 crime figures to a ‘normal period’ two years ago where there was no lockdown.”

The increases, therefore, reflect the difference between Q1 2018/19 and Q1 2021/22, the minister explained.

Contact crimes such as murder, attempted murder, sexual offences and all categories of assault registered a 60.6% increase, compared to the corresponding period of the previous financial year.

Cash-in-transit heists increased by 142.1% year-on-year, from 19 reported incidents in April-June 2020 to 46 incidents in April-June 2021.

Gauteng Highjacking Hotspots – The Most Dangerous Province in SA

The Minister of Police Bheki Cele has published the official crime statistics for Q1 2021/2022, with a steep increase in hijackings reported. The South African Police Service (SAPS) has chosen to compare the crime data to Q1 2019 instead of Q1 2020 to account for the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown.

“We cannot compare the same period of this year and last year, due to the skewed and abnormal crime trends, caused by the different levels of lockdown, if we are to understand this crime picture that we are presenting to you today,” Cele said.

“While we will not sweep the high and unnatural figures under the carpet, we will instead bring to the fore a holistic picture of comparing the 2021/22 Q1 crime figures to a ‘normal period’ two years ago where there was no lockdown.”

The report shows that aggravated robberies such as hijacking increased by 92.2% compared to Q1 2019. By comparison, carjacking increased by 13.1% compared to Q1 2020. A notable trend can be seen in the impact of lockdown levels, as the country moved from a level 5 lockdown at the end of March 2020 (394 hijackings) to a level 3 lockdown in June (1,376 hijackings).

A similar trend was seen in the reverse as the country saw a high number of hijackings during its level 1 lockdown in May 2021 (1,775 hijackings), with this dropping to 1,675 hijackings as the country moved down to a level 3 lockdown in June 2021.

Cele described the level 5 lockdown as a ‘crime holiday’ for South Africa.

“The crime holiday is long gone, and these figures should action us and strengthen our resolve.

“The figures as distorted as they are must also sharpen the SAPS operational responses to make South Africa safer for all who live in it.”

 

Once again, most cases of hijacking were reported in Gauteng (2,704), followed by the KwaZulu-Natal (820) and the Western Cape (589).  Most of these hijackings are reported to take place in townships, followed closely by residential areas.

Vehicle tracking company Tracker, in August published data that shows that the nature of vehicle crime is changing as hijackers become more brazen and desperate. For the past three years, hijacking has been increasing at an alarming rate and is now more prevalent than vehicle theft, said Duma Ngcobo, chief operating officer at Tracker South Africa.

“The slant towards hijacking is most likely an opportunistic tactic, with a noticeable increase in vehicles being targeted for their loads, particularly fast-moving consumable goods.

“Drivers carrying large amounts of cash are also being targeted. South Africans should be wary and remain vigilant, especially when returning home from shopping or when goods bought online are delivered to their homes. Hijackings are often violent, and there are instances where a hostage is taken,” said Ngcobo.

Another popular tactic is criminals impersonating law enforcement officials to commit hijackings, a method otherwise known as blue light robberies, he said.

“Criminals also commit vehicle theft using online selling platforms, where sellers hand over goods on receipt of a fake payment.

“Sometimes, criminals pretend there is something wrong with your vehicle, a method known as flagging down. They also take advantage of drivers stopped on the side of the road or those picking up hitchhikers,” said Ngcobo.

Photos – Brackenhurst House Burns Down

An abandoned house in Brackenhurst burned down on Saturday morning. Members of the SAPS, security companies, and Afriforum as well as the fire department was at the scene to bring the blaze under control.

No injuries were reported.

 

Roadblocks Increased in Gauteng – Know Your Rights

South African motorists have seen an increase in police presence on the country’s roads in recent weeks as part of the country’s level 4 lockdown restrictions. The restrictions include a strict curfew and a ban on leisure travel for residents of Gauteng, with SAPS officers focusing on all the major provincial routes.

This, combined with the recent looting and civil unrest, has again raised questions around the rights of motorists at roadblocks. In most circumstances, the police should have a warrant issued before searching your car or home, say legal experts at DSC Attorneys.

However, under certain circumstances the Criminal Procedure Act, the Police Act, and the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act empower the police to search your vehicle or home without first obtaining a warrant.

The experts said that police can search your home or car without your permission and without first getting a warrant if an officer has “reasonable suspicion” that you:

  • Have committed a crime; or
  • Are in possession of material used, or to be used, in a crime.

A police officer cannot simply search your home or car on a whim. He or she must have evidence to back up the reasonable suspicion of illicit activity.


The Exceptions

According to DSC Attorneys, a warrant is needed in most circumstances for the police to legally carry out a search of your car or home, but there are exceptions.

  1. You give permission for the search

If a police officer asks for your permission to search your car or home and you grant permission, it becomes a legal search.

2. Roadblocks

The Police Act allows police officers to set up roadblocks with the permission of the National or Provincial Police Commissioner. The Act permits a police officer to search any car stopped at a roadblock. An officer can seize any item that’s reasonably believed to have been used in a crime or can be used as evidence in proving the commissioning of a crime.

“Clearly, this is open to abuse. A police officer at a roadblock can search your car when he or she has no reason to believe you have committed, or are planning to commit, a crime,” the firm said.

  3. Urgency

Police are legally allowed to search your home or car without your permission and without a warrant when the necessity to execute the search is so urgent that any delay caused by obtaining a warrant “would defeat the object of the search”.

This means the police can search your home or car to seize evidence they believe would be imminently moved or destroyed, DSC Attorneys said.

“There are restrictions on this power. The police officers involved must have reasonable grounds to believe a warrant would have been issued.

“If evidence is obtained when there was no real urgency or insufficient grounds for the search to take place, the evidence can’t be used in a trial against the accused.”

What to do during a police search

It’s difficult to understand or know how to respond to a police search, especially after reading reports of nasty interactions with police officers, DSC Attorneys said.

“Remember to always remain calm, polite and cooperative. Firstly, ask for identification so that you know you’re dealing with a real police officer and ask to see a search warrant. Take notes of names, times and the location of the search.

If you’re stopped at a roadblock, remember that your car can be searched.

“You can’t refuse it. You can and must ask the police officer to show you ID and the written authorisation from the National or Provincial Police Commissioner for the setting up of the roadblock.”

Police on High Alert after Warnings of Attack

Police stations across South Africa, particularly those with arms storage facilities, have been placed on high alert following an intelligence report that “instigators” may be planning to attack, with the intention of stealing guns, ammunition, and other weapons.

News24 reported that, on Sunday, as the country was starting to count the cost and extent of the damage in the wake of last week’s violent protests and looting which swept across Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, police top brass warned police stations to step up their security.

The warning followed intelligence that individuals suspected of instigating and triggering the unrest, which claimed more than 270 lives, could be planning to disarm police stations across the KwaZulu-Natal province.

A memorandum, authored by the policing deputy national commissioner Fannie Masemola, warned that, while the threat may be specific to KwaZulu-Natal, it may spread to other provinces. According to NEWS24, the memorandum shows the police received the intelligence from the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee (NICOC) on Sunday.

According to reports, the intelligence was gathered by a team set up by the NICOC to investigate the unrest, comprising members of the police service and its Crime Intelligence (CI) unit, the military’s Defence Intelligence (DI), and the State Security Agency (SSA).

“The briefing from the Intelligence Coordinating Committee to the JOCCOM on 18 July 2021 warned of the threat of possible attacks on police stations in KwaZulu-Natal to obtain firearms, ammunition and other weapons,” Masemola’s memorandum said.

 

The National Crime Combating Forum memorandum allegedly states: Planned Protests/Rallies Against the ConCourt Judgment: Police Safety and Prevention of Attacks Targeting Police Stations – was also sent to heads of the Hawks, Detective and Forensic Services, human resources, CI, and visible policing operations.

Another threat identified is that instigators of the current violence and protest action may seek to collude with members of the South African Police Service and members of other security services, perceived to be sympathetic to their cause, to obtain firearms and other weapons.

Masemola warned all the provincial police commissioners, divisional commissioners, and Hawks boss General Godfrey Lebeya to heighten security and implement adequate firearms controls.

“The provincial commissioner of KwaZulu-Natal and all other provincial commissioners, as well as the national head of the DPCI and divisional commissioners, with operational units and firearms storage facilities, are requested to take note of this threat and ensure that all police stations and operational units take the necessary measures, as included in the police safety strategy, to ensure the safety of their facilities and safe storage and effective controls over firearms, ammunition and other weapons that may be targeted by the organisers of (the) protest action.”

“The police safety strategy and plan, the guidelines to support the implementation of the strategy, and the pocket safety guard for police members provide comprehensive directive in regard measures that should be put in place to enhance police safety.”

 

A police Crime Intelligence operative allegedly said he had received intelligence that instigators planned to attack and disarm two police stations in Durban over the past weekend.

Two other senior sources within the police and the military told News24 that the team, set up by the NICOC, is investigating allegations and a possibility that several “instigators coordinated last week’s unrest”.

While the sources refused to divulge names, News24 reported that the list of possible instigators include senior ANC politicians believed to be members of the party’s Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction, former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) veterans, and rogue intelligence agents.

 

Looted Goods to be Destroyed by SAPS

According to recent reports, the goods being confiscated from looters by the police and other law enforcement officials will likely be destroyed. Authorities are tight-lipped about the final destination of the food, appliances, and furniture among other items, which were looted during the looting and protests last week, but stores have confirmed they have no use for them. Police policy dictates that the items must be destroyed.

Several retailers have said that they had no idea where the confiscated goods were being stored or where they would end up as it became near impossible to discern where they were looted and when. The items cannot be sold to customers however and thus the fate of the stolen goods will be determined by authorities.

Insiders in the South African Police Service have also informed media representatives that the government was reluctant to disclose details on the goods due to “security reasons” given the tensions and sensitivity of the issue.

The police, however, is criticized by the public when destroying confiscated goods, more so in light of the alarming poverty rates in the country. Section 36 of the General Law Act empowers SAPS to act on any person found in possession of goods to which there is reasonable suspicion that they have been stolen and is unable to give a satisfactory account of such possession.

What Will Change after Ramaphosa’s Speech?

President Cyril Ramaphosa last night announced that government will deploy the South African Defence Force and bolster security measures to end violent riots and looting in the country.

In his national address on Monday evening (12 July), Ramaphosa said that the past weekend has seen acts of public violence rarely seen in the history of South Africa’s democracy. Property has been destroyed, shops have been looted, citizens threatened, and people have died, he continued.

The president said that while the violence initially started in KZN, it has since spread to Gauteng. A total of 166 suspects have been arrested in KZN and another 323 suspects have been arrested in Gauteng.

Despite these arrests, however, violence has continued in these areas and threatens to spill over to other provinces with reports of protests in Port Elizabeth.

“While these actions may have originated from political or ethnic agitating, this has since become opportunistic acts of criminality as a cover for looting and theft,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said that the country faces food and medical insecurity because of these acts, while the country’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts have been disrupted and medical staff cannot attend to patients who need urgent care.

To put a stop to the rampant looting and rioting throughout the country, the president said that new security measures will be introduced:

  • Ramaphosa has authorised the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in support of the operations of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
  • The SAPS is putting measures in place to call up its operational members from leave and rest-days to increase the presence of law enforcement personnel on the ground.
  • The NatJOINTS is receiving support from the Intelligence Coordinating Committee, comprising of SAPS Crime Intelligence, Defence Intelligence and State Security.
  • In addition to greater visibility and an intelligence-driven presence in potential hotspots, the government will prioritise the prosecution of all suspects alleged to be involved in this violence.
  • The National Security Council, chaired by Ramaphosa, will be meeting twice a day to coordinate all measures necessary to restore stability.
  • The government will work with the business sector to ensure the safety of drivers, cashiers, patients and all customers. They will share information and resources to ensure the restoration of key supply chains.
  • Arrangements are being made for government leaders and public representatives as part of their responsibilities to meet with leaders in various communities to promote and assist with stability.

“Let me be clear: we will take action to protect every person in this country against the threat of violence, intimidation, theft and looting. We will not hesitate to arrest and prosecute those who perpetrate these actions and will ensure that they face the full might of our law.

“We will restore calm and order so that we can get on with the task of rebuilding this country and creating a better life for its people.”

Extended lockdown

The address comes a day after Ramaposa announced an extension of South Africa’s adjusted level 4 lockdown by 14 days.

“Our health system countrywide remains under pressure. By next week, daily hospital admissions across the country are likely to reach the levels observed during the peak of the first two waves. Covid-19 related deaths in hospitals are also increasing, and have surpassed those observed at the peak of the first wave,” the president said.

While Gauteng is still the epicentre of infections, Ramaposa said that cases are surging in other provinces with the healthcare sector increasingly under strain. Infections are rapidly increasing in the Western Cape, Limpopo, North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

As a result, the president said that Cabinet after consultation with the provinces has decided to maintain the country at an adjusted alert level 4 for an additional two weeks.

The following restrictions will remain in place:

  • The evening curfew remains in place from 21h00 – 04h00, and only those with permission to do so may leave their homes during this time;
  • All social, religious, and political gatherings remain prohibited;
  • Schools will remain closed until 26 July;
  • The sale of alcohol remains prohibited.

However, Ramaphosa said that some restrictions will be eased for some businesses. These include:

  • Restaurants and eateries will be able to operate as normal while observing strict protocols – Such establishments may not accommodate more than 50 people at a time or, for smaller venues, more than 50% of their normal capacity;
  • Certain other venues such as gyms and fitness centres may also reopen;
  • Agricultural activities such as livestock auctions will be permitted.

Military to be deployed in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng to quell pro-Zuma violence

President Cyril Ramaphosa has been under pressure to deploy troops as the violence escalates. The SANDF has now been deployed to both KZN and Gauteng to assist members of the South African Police Force and Metro Police.

Brigadier-General Mafi Mgobozi confirmed this: “I can confirm that as the South African National Defence Force, we have deployed our soldiers in KZN and in the Gauteng area,” he said. “As we deploy our soldiers, we are doing so in support of the police. We will not be taking over the situation,” he added.

Protesters have continued to target shopping centres and private property in areas in and around Durban and Johannesburg.  News reports from shopping centres closing in Alberton have caused many employers to close offices and send employees home as a precautionary measure.

In KZN several shopping centers suffered severe damage and shop owners lost millions of rands worth of products while looters can be seen leaving these centers with shopping trollies piled high with stolen goods.

Although several arrests have been made, the riots have not been completely quelled and many South Africans have started to panic.

The SAPS have implored South Africans to remain calm, but to avoid areas where confirmed reports of violence have been published. We have yet to confirm any incident of looting in Alberton itself but at this time can confirm looting and violent protests in Vosloorus, as well as looting in Lenasia, according to the most recent information received.

tameTIMES will continue to update our readers as and when information becomes available.  If you have footage or reports of incidents of violence and looting, please contact us through Whatsapp on 085 556 9033.

‘We can’t help you’: Shock as Gauteng cops ignore GBV victim

A woman from Atteridgeville, Pretoria has exposed the sheer contempt that a group of police officers showed towards her last week, after she went to report a case of GBV at her local station. Lethabo Nontuthuko was so shocked by the cops’ refusal to help, she ended up filming the confrontation – and it’s a terrible look for the Gauteng SAPS.

GAUTENG COPS IGNORE GBV VICTIM

The video only caught part of the dismal response, but it’s still a clip full of shockers from these law enforcement officials. As a collective, they fall way short of the standards we should be setting for the police forces of South Africa.

  • One of the officers threatens the woman, and tells her ‘not to bore them’.
  • Another claims they cannot help her, as the alleged assault ‘took place at a drinking establishment’.
  • Sadly, a female officer on duty shows no empathy and refuses to name her obstructive colleagues.

OFFICERS TURN A BLIND EYE TO GBV DISTRESS CALL

Nontuthuko described her ordeal on social media, and explained that she was ‘harassed by a bouncer at a nearby bar. However, there was a reluctance to believe her story – and the officers seemed more bothered about their coffee.

“I was harassed by a bouncer from a popular establishment. I went to ask for help from our beloved cops… did they help me? No. The guy said he won’t help me. He further said he can’t speak to me because he doesn’t want to talk English.”

“I then asked the lady, what’s this guy’s name? She then said to me ‘nna Osang bora’. A whole woman didn’t even wanna hear what I had to say. They went on to have their coffee as usual – is this what our country has come to?”

WATCH: GAUTENG POLICE FAIL TO REPORT ‘HARASSMENT CASE

INVESTIGATION ‘NOW A TOP PRIORITY FOR SAPS

The victim has since confirmed that she is now ‘receiving all the necessary support’, and a police investigation into the matter has since been launched. We understand that the probe has been prioritised by Gauteng SAPS. Nontuthuko, meanwhile, has been putting the cynics of social media right back in their place:

“Some of you will have went on about how ‘drunk people misuse state resources’. Does being under the influence mean you are not supposed to get assisted if you are victimized? Also, having been at a club doesn’t mean one was drinking. This is me standing up for myself and other women. I will not be silenced! I will fight this till the bitter end.”

Police officer impregnates inmate

Correctional Services National Commissioner Arthur Fraser has told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services that a police officer has impregnated an awaiting-trial prisoner.

This is just one of several instances of misconduct by officials, which were heard during a virtual session on Wednesday, 12 May 2021. Officials from the department were giving the committee an update on its state of affairs, particularly pertaining to the country’s correctional facilities.

The revelation lays bare the extent of sexual misconduct amongst prison officials. It also comes as the Correctional Services department found itself at the centre of a viral prison video – in which an official was seen having sex with an inmate in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

According to Fraser, the act occurred outside the prison and the SAPS has already instituted disciplinary proceedings against the police officer.

“What we discovered in this process is that that police officer collected the remandee and that that sexual act happened outside our facility,” he said.

“We have engaged with SAPS and they are busy with disciplinary matters in this regard. I thought we had to reflect on this so you don’t see it on social media later and think we have not registered it with the committee”

Correctional Services Commissioner Arthur Fraser

ARTHUR FRASER: CORRECTIONS OFFICIAL CHARGED WITH RAPING INMATE

National Commission Arthur Fraser further told parliamentarians that a male correctional officer was facing charges for allegedly raping a female officer in KwaZulu-Natal.

“So he is criminally charged with rape while there is a disciplinary process in place there because we feel that the offender is vulnerable, so we are moving from the perspective that it is more serious than consensual,” Fraser said.

There was also an incident in Gauteng involving a female corrections official and a male inmate. That matter is still part of a disciplinary process.

Correctional Services deputy minister Phathekile Holomisa said another female official in the Free State is said to have also engaged in sexual acts with a male inmate and was subsequently dismissed, after an inquiry was conducted into the matter.

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