Almost 300,000 people arrested during lockdown

Police minister Bheki Cele this afternoon presented the quarterly crime statistics. This is for crimes that occurred from the first of April to the end of June this year. The country was under lockdown at this time due to the coronavirus outbreak.

PRETORIA - The Justice Minister is thinking about what to do with the almost 300,000 people who now have criminal records because they were arrested during the lockdown for flouting regulations.

It comes as Police Minister Bheki Cele has released the quarterly crime statistics, saying South Africa is in the midst of a crime holiday.

Of the nearly 300,000 people arrested for breaking lockdown regulations, most are still waiting to appear in court and almost 30,000 have been found guilty so far.

The Justice Department says before COVID-19, it had considered bringing legislation to Parliament to deal with criminal records for minor offences, but this hasn't been finalised yet.

READ: Cele: Decrease in crime from April to June

Most of those arrested during lockdown were busted for breaking the curfew, gathering in groups, or selling or transporting alcohol and cigarettes while these were banned.

Police say they have made major breakthroughs in cracking down on cigarette smuggling.

But they do not yet know the scale or value of the illegal alcohol trade during the lockdown.

Cele says they hope to maintain the much-lower levels of crime by recruiting more reservists after the lockdown is over.