South Africa Sees One Positive Coronavirus Spinoff: Less Crime

(Bloomberg) -- Murder, rape, assault and robbery cases in South Africa have plummeted since the authorities imposed a lockdown in late March, but the police have been kept busy apprehending people for breaking the rules aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

There were 1,072 murders committed in the country between March 27 and May 19, a 64% drop from same period a year ago, police statistics released Friday show. The number of reported rapes declined by 83%, attempted murder by 56%, assault was down 80% and robbery with aggravating circumstances fell by 64% over the period.

The police have meanwhile logged 230,000 contraventions of the lockdown rules, including violations of bans on large gatherings and alcohol and tobacco sales, Police Minister Bheki Cele said in an online briefing. Most culprits were either issued with fines and warnings, while the more serious cases were before the courts, he said.

South Africa has confirmed 19,137 coronavirus infections so far, the most in Africa. Public ire over several seemingly arbitrary rules, including a night-time curfew and restrictions on what goods may be sold, has mounted over recent weeks, and President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged to ease the lockdown by the end of the month.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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