Crime in South Africa fell 40% in the first three months of its lockdown, official figures show.
The police minister said most types of crime were committed between April and June – including sexual assault and arson.
He added that a controversial alcohol ban during the coronavirus lockdown had helped, but attacks on liquor stores had increased during the pandemic.
South Africa among the highest crime rates in the world. It has also recorded more than half of the coronavirus cases in Africa.
More than 500,000 infections and 11,000 deaths have been reported nationwide – although Mary Harper, editor-in-chief of the BBC Africa, says this may be due to her reliable testing rates.
Police Minister Bheki Cele told reporters on Friday the numbers “paint a never-before-seen rosy picture of a peaceful South Africa experiencing a” criminal vacation “.
“These statistics show significant declines in all crime categories compared to the same comparative period last year,” he said. “A 40.4% decrease in the number of rape cases was reported over the three months. ”
Contact and property related crimes – including arson and malicious damage – fell 29%.
The ban on alcohol and cigarettes in locked South Africa has been controversial.
The country implemented a ban on alcohol sales between March 27 and June 1. The ban was reimposed on July 12 and remains in effect.
Comparisons of alcohol consumption
In April, at the start of the lockdown, Mr Cele warned his officers “would destroy the infrastructure where alcohol is sold”.
The police minister has been accused of encouraging a brutal approach to people caught drinking – including the alleged beating of a man in his own backyard.
Bar and restaurant owners also protested the ban, saying it would destroy their businesses.
Last month, the South African Police Service released the country’s general crime statistics for the year 2019/2020.
Overall, over the past year, carjacking, thefts of non-residential property and murders have all increased from the previous year.
Sexual offenses, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and possession of illegal firearms have also increased.