SA Records Drop In Gender-Based Violence

South Africa’s initial COVID-19 lockdown saw gender-based violence and sexual crimes dramatically decrease during levels 5 and 4.

Sexual offences crimes decreased between April and June, Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Friday.

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Releasing the inaugural first quarter crime statistics, Cele said between April and June, sexual offences decreased by 39.7%. These related to crimes such as rape and sexual assault.

A breakdown of the category saw reported rape cases drop by a significant 40% while sexual assault recorded a 35.9% decrease.

Attempted sexual offences and contact sexual offences decreased by 40.3% and 36.2%, respectively.

A breakdown of the statistics reveals that most rapes happened at places of residence of the perpetrator, followed by public areas, public transport and prisons.

“While we can’t claim easy victories, we acknowledge that the circumstances that led to the declining numbers were distorted. But even if distorted, it was a better time in South Africa because more lives were saved,” said Cele.

The quarterly statistics revealed a reduction in crimes committed against women and children during level 4 and 5 of the lockdown.

“However, the low numbers of domestic abuse and sexual offences reported cases could have been due to some women not being able to escape their abusers and could not report crimes committed against them,” said the Minister at a briefing held at the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) head office.

Cele said police would continue to monitor the reporting of such cases and verify whether the reduction was as a result of non-reporting due to the lockdown.

This, he said, will be done by comparing the dates of reporting with the dates of which the crime was committed.

The Minister emphasised that it was equally important to acknowledge that the unavailability of alcohol also had a role to play.

“This is evident in the decreased numbers of cases of contact crimes which plummeted by 37.4%,” he said, adding that the first quarter of the 2020/2021 period was a “much safer time to live in, in the country.”

Meanwhile, Cele revealed that police would soon make a breakthrough in relation to the murders of five women in Mthwalume, in KwaZulu-Natal.

Police in the province, he said, have taken two people in for questioning.

“We are questioning them and we are confident that at least one of them will give us proper answers. We will be going there tomorrow to enhance the forces on the ground so that we stop this thing. It’s a thing that should be stopped… five is already a big number,” he said.

Since April, police have found bodies of women in a sugar plantation in the area. The latest two bodies were found this week.


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