The purpose of a police service like the South African Police Service (SAPS) is primarily to prevent and detect crime. During the COVID-19 lockdowns in South Africa the police also played an important role in maintaining public order. Although there were prominent incidences where the SAPS did not use their discretion in controlling crowds during the lockdowns, they generally have seemed to do a good job. Considering the primary focus of any police service, it is questioned whether it should be their responsibility to police the regulations implemented during the State of Disaster.
A review of the quarterly crime statistics released by the SAPS shows the extent to which lockdowns brought about a reduction in crime. However, the overall trend over the 12 month period since the lockdowns began is that the number of crimes have begun to increase and to normalize. The lockdowns had a significant positive impact on aggravated robbery and the trends associated with this crime remain below normal. Organized crime has seen a significant increase in the last quarter, which includes cash in transit and truck jacking crimes. Interestingly, burglary was the only crime that saw a significant increase in April 2020 at the start of the lockdowns.
The COVID-19 virus will remain with us into the foreseeable future and will continue to place pressure on the SAPS to fulfill its mandated functions. This will be exacerbated by continued unemployment and the disruptions brought about by COVID-19. Dr de Kock believes that the members of the SAPS need to be better trained to deal with people during future COVID-19 lockdowns. He also believes that the SAPS needed to implement visible and intelligent based policing in order to bring about a stabilisation and reduction of crime in South Africa.
To see more on this webinar presented by Dr Chris de Kock, click on YouTube below.
View quarterly crime statistics reports from the South African Police Service (SAPS) - click on links below: