South Africa experienced a marked decrease in sexual offences during the early stages of lockdown, says Police Minister Bheki Cele, presenting the crime statistics for the first quarter of the year.
All sexual offences decreased by 39,7%. Sexual offences crimes include rape, sexual assault, attempted sexual offences and contact sexual offences. The decline was likely due to the strict regulations of levels five and four of the national lockdown.
“While we cannot claim easy victories, we acknowledge that the circumstances that led to the declining numbers were distorted. But even if distorted, it was better in South Africa because more lives were saved,” says Cele.
Rape saw a decrease of 40.4%, while sexual assault decreased by 35.9%. Attempted sexual offences decreases by 40.3% and contact sexual offences cases by 36.2%. Conversely, the decline in crimes against women and children may also be due to survivors who were unable to report their perpetrators during the lockdown.
“The low numbers of the 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,” Cele says.
Police will monitor sexual offences reports to verify if the lockdown lead to non-reporting. Authorities are comparing the dates of reporting with the dates on which the crime was committed.
Role of alcohol
Cele also attributed to the drop to the ban on alcohol, pointing to the decrease in contact crimes. There were 53 891 fewer cases of murder, attempted murder, assault, common robbery and common assault reported compared to the same reporting period last year, says Cele.
“It is about time us as a country to start having frank and open discussion about alcohol and the real effect it has on society. The evidence is clear from these figures that the absence of alcohol leads to safer communities. The first quarter of the 2020/2021 period was much safer to live in, in this country.” – Health-e News.