The South African Police Service (SAPS) and Stats SA have published quarterly crime statistics for the second quarter of the 2020/21 period, covering all criminal activity reported between July and September 2020. The data shows a massive increase in criminal activity almost across the board when comparing numbers against the previous quarter (April to June 2020) – this is largely due to the previous quarter being during heightened lockdown.
Ongoing analysis and reports of crime during lockdown pointed to a massive reduction in criminal activity during the initial stages of lockdown, especially ‘hard’ lockdown (level 5) though unreported cases of GBV and domestic violence may have been higher. This was seen in the 72% reduction in murders, and an 81% reduction in hijacking. Similar trends were seen in reported assaults, attempted murders, robbery and rape.
However, these trends reversed and slowly returned back to normal levels as lockdown was eased. By July, insurers and tracking companies had reported vehicle theft and hijacking numbers were back to their pre-lockdown levels. A better reflection of the crime situation in South Africa is comparing year-on-year numbers and the data shows that crime activity in South Africa is lower than a year ago, due to the country still being under some degree of lockdown.
Bheki Cele, the Police minister, said that the second quarter stats reflect “a South Africa operating under eased restrictions under the Disaster Management Act”. However, as restrictions ease and the country gets back to normal, the considerable drops in certain crime categories are expected to narrow.
SA crime stats for Q2 2020 (1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020)
|Q1 vs Q2||Apr – Jun 2020||Jul – Sep 2020||Change|
|Contact Crimes||90 376||135 821||+50.3%|
|Contact-related Crimes||19 191||26991||+40.6%|
|Property-related Crimes||86 410||95516||+10.5%|
|Other Serious Crimes||266 495||352277||+32.2%|
|Total public reported||462 472||610 605||+32.0%|
|Crime detected as a result of police action||25 093||42121||+67.9%|
|Total||487 565||652 726||+33.9%|
|2019 vs 2020||Jul – Sep 2019||Jul – Sep 2020||Change|
|Contact Crimes||153 650||135 821||-11.6%|
|Contact-related Crimes||28 042||26 991||-3.7%|
|Property-related Crimes||117 539||95 516||-18.7%|
|Other Serious Crimes||407 303||352 277||-13.5%|
|Total public reported||706 534||610 605||-13.6%|
|Crime detected as a result of police action||78 779||42 121||-46.5%|
|Total||785 313||652 726||-16.9%|
For Community reported crimes, robberies – be it of cash-in-transit or at residential premises – were some of the only crimes to see an increase over the period. Other crimes that also increased included commercial crimes, carjacking, attempted murder – with only a single bank robbery reported.
Considerable reductions were noted in burglaries and theft out of vehicles, which usually take place when people are out of the home.
“As we approach the festive season, criminals are trying to make up for the time lost during the ‘crime holiday’ experienced in the first quarter of the financial year. This is demonstrated by the increase in the country’s most feared crimes, which are residential robberies.
“While many citizens are still working from home due to the Nationwide Lockdown, incidents of home invasions have increased by 8.5%. On the other hand, cases of business robberies have declined by the same percentage,” Cele said.
Cele said that an increase in cash in transit heists showed that criminals were attempting to catch up.
“It is clear armed gangs targeting cash vans, are 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.”
Crimes as detected by police – particularly in driving under the influence, and drug-related crimes, saw the biggest drop.
Biggest increase to biggest decrease in crimes Q2 2020/21
|Category||Jul – Sep 2019||Jul – Sep 2020||Change|
|Bank Robbery||0||1||+1 case|
|Robbery of cash in transit||40||64||+60.0%|
|Robbery at residential premises||5 308||5 760||+8.5%|
|Commercial crime||21 518||21 978||+2.1%|
|Attempted murder||4 856||4 941||+1.8%|
|Carjacking||4 882||4 803||-1.6%|
|Malicious injury to property||26 985||26 005||-3.6%|
|Common assault||38 993||36 851||-5.5%|
|Burglary at non-residential premises||16 892||15 881||-6.0%|
|Murder||5 446||5 107||-6.2%|
|Stock-theft||7 878||7 339||-6.8%|
|Robbery at non-residential premises||5 394||4 937||-8.5%|
|Shoplifting||15 192||13 808||-9.1%|
|Assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm||39 807||34 890||-12.4%|
|Robbery with aggravating circumstances||37 617||32 745||-13.0%|
|Sexual Offences||13 730||11 423||-16.8%|
|Theft of motor vehicle and motorcycle||12 235||10 146||-17.1%|
|All theft not mentioned elsewhere||71 362||58 154||-18.5%|
|Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition||4 485||3 631||-19.0%|
|Burglary at residential premises||49 930||39 304||-21.3%|
|Common robbery||13 201||9 864||-25.3%|
|Theft out of or from motor vehicle||30 586||22 846||-25.3%|
|Drug-related crime||45 682||29 094||-36.3%|
|Sexual offences discovered as result of police action||2 533||1 568||-38.1%|
|Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs||26 079||7 828||-70.0%|