The South African Police Service (SAPS) has made significant inroads in reducing crime during the festive season period, says Police Minister Bheki Cele.
The Minister, addressing reporters at the release of the SAPS Safer Festive Season Report on Tuesday, said the men and women in blue worked tirelessly over the holidays to ensure that all festivities were carried out within the parameters of the law.
"The festive season period, according to the SAPS calendar which started from October 15 to the 11th of January, has been the safest," Cele said.
During this period, he said, there was a massive drop in most major crimes.
"A lesser number of people [were] killed compared to the same period the previous year. The national murder rate during this period declined by 1.4%.
"All crimes within the contact crime category decreased, apart from common assault and robbery with aggravating circumstances. Women and children were also safer this festive season, with sexual offences which includes crimes such as rapes, sexual assault and attempted sexual offences, decreased by 9.9%," the Minister said.
There was also a drop in all contact-related crimes such as arson and malicious damage to property.
Property-related crime such as burglary at residential and non-residential premises, theft out of vehicles and stock theft decreased by 10.2%.
There were, however, areas of concern.
"With all these decreasing numbers, I am aware that there are still some stubborn crimes that need urgent intervention and resources.
"While 388 suspects have been arrested for car hijacking during this period. There were more carjacking and truck hijacking cases during the 2019 festive season period, which increased by 11% and 9.0%, respectively," he said.
Proactive policing during this period resulted in 4 831 firearms being confiscated during the period, the Minister said.
Cele said more drunken drivers were taken off the roads during this festive period.
"Despite our constant warnings, education and awareness raised, 24 827 drunk drivers were arrested as a result of police action. This means 4 048 more people were arrested by the SAPS for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs compared to the previous comparative period."
The Minister said he was convinced that alcohol remains an enemy of society and is a main driver of many contact crimes, with police during the festive season shutting down 6 124 liquor stores and taverns due to non-compliance.
"Over 2000 of these outlets were operating in the Eastern Cape," he said.
Suspects arrested and national figures
Police action also resulted in the arrest of over 84 000 suspects, among them 173 parolees, for various crimes. About 17 000 of them remain behind bars and will be processed through the legal system.
Cele said while there had recently seen embarrassing and very concerning conduct of some members of the SAPS, he was confident that these were isolated incidents that are being dealt with internally and appropriate action taken will be taken.
The Minister further instructed police officers to keep the same spirit, motivation and energy levels in the next decade as government works towards achieving the presidential goal of halving violent crime in 10 years.