April-June 2021 crime states: Double-figure rise attributed to low levels during hard lockdown in 2020

Contact crimes, sexual offences and aggravated robberies rose sharply in April, May and June, the quarterly crime statistics show. 

“The very same shock of last year is repeating itself with an exaggerated extreme opposite to say the least,” Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Friday. “The double-figure eye-popping increase in most crime categories is [because of] adjusted lockdown levels and distorted crime trends.”  

Cele said the context in which double-figure increases of crime took place must be considered — the country coming to a standstill in 2020 during hard lockdown level 5 at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

It is for this reason this year’s first-quarter crime statistics are compared with both 2020 and 2019. 

“Overall, contact crimes increased by 60.6% compared to the skewed same period last year. If the comparison was made to the normal period, prior to the country being placed under lockdown level 5, 4 and 3, this would have resulted in an increase of 0.6%,” said Cele. 

The murder rate is up by 66.2% compared to 2020 and 6.7% if compared to the 2019 figure. The top driving forces behind these murders are arguments, robberies, mob justice and gang-related killings. 

In a period of three months — April to June 2021 — a total of 5 760 people were killed, most of them in the Western Cape. In other words, an average of more than 50 people were killed each day. 

The Eastern Cape recorded a drop in murder incidents. 

In the same period 10 006 rape cases were reported. That is an average of more than 100 rape cases every day. 

“This is an increase of 4 201 cases, amounting to a 72.4% increase, compared to the skewed previous reporting period. This number drops drastically to 2.8% if [the] comparison was made to the normal period prior to lockdown,” said Cele.

KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape recorded the highest incidents of rape.

There were 46 cash-in-transit heists from April to June this year, a spike of 142.1% compared to last year. When compared with 2019, this is an increase of 21.1%. 

National police commissioner Khehla Sitole said, “The reality is that the population has outgrown the policing resources and further to that the geographical spatial spread has also outgrown our policing infrastructure.” 

To help deal with these difficulties Sitole referred to a “strategic deployment of resources” exercise in that “we provide a response to the increased population numbers, and as well as the overstretch geographical spatial framework”. 

He assured the country that the police are not giving up as the figures announced are operational statistics, not strategic statistics determining policing performances. 

“We are not yet losing the battle. The battle is still in progress. From here we’ll be going back to the drawing board and we will be coming up with what I would call the crime stats response action plan in order to respond to the current picture”.

Sub-Categories2019/2020 vs 2020/20212019/2020 vs 2021/2022
Contact crimes, sexual offences, aggravated robbery60.6% 0.6%
All sexual offences74.1%5.0%
Aggravated robbery107%45.2%
Contact-related crimes42.3%           0.5%
Property-related crimes6.0%        – 24.8%
Contact Crimes2019/2020 vs 2020/20212019/2020 vs 2021/2022
Murder 66.2%6.7%
Sexual offences 74.1 %5.0%
Attempted murder 47.5%12.5%
Assault to do grievous bodily harm70.1%0.3%
Common assault51.6%8.9%
Common robbery 65.4%– 16.9%
Robbery with aggravating circumstances56.8%– 5.1%

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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