NEWS

South Africans Are Still Afraid, Particularly Of Home Burglaries And Violent Crime.

This is what the Statistics South Africa Victims of Crime Survey tells us: most believe drugs are the reason for property crimes, ex-prisoners are least welcome in KwaZulu-Natal, and the police are the first people called by most victims.

14/02/2017 15:05 SAST | Updated 14/02/2017 17:56 SAST
Gallo Images / Nardus Engelbrecht
They're still the first people most South Africans call when they're victims of crime: the South African Police Service.

Burglars most often break in by smashing the doors.

Whites are more afraid of using public transport than blacks.

Most South Africans believe that property crimes are committed by people wanting money for drugs.

Most thieves, robbers and violent criminals are probably from your own neighbourhood.

This is what the Statistics South Africa's (Stats SA) Victims of Crime Survey (VOCS) reveals. The Statistician-General, Dr Pali Lehohla released the annual results of the VOCS 2015/16 on Tuesday, providing information on crime trends and households' perceptions about safety and law enforcement.

This is the good news: home invasions and housebreakings are down, from 931 000 (about 7 percent of households surveyed in 2010 to 807 000 (about 6 percent) in 2015/16; theft of personal property also saw a steady decline from 889 000 (about 3 percent of households) in 2011 to 712 000 (about 2 percent) in 2015/16.

This is the bad news: South Africans feel that violent and property crime is increasing so much that most households don't feel safe to walk alone in parks or allow their children to play freely in their neighbourhoods.

Housebreaking, burglary, street and home robberies, and murder are still the most feared crimes.

"It appears that the fear is driven by experience rather than the severity of the crime. Housebreaking/burglary and home robbery being perceived as the most common crimes are also the most feared, even more than the serious crimes of murder and assault," said the survey.

This is some of what the survey found:

  • Most assaults are carried out by someone the victim knows.
  • More than 40 percent of households believe that attempted rape is the main motive for the murder of a relative.
  • Coloureds are more likely to believe that property crimes are driven by the need for drugs, Indians are more likely to believe the motive is greed, while whites are more likely to believe that property crimes are driven by real need.
  • About half the population has done something to physically protect their homes, with up to two-thirds doing that in the Western Cape and Gauteng.
  • About one in five households in Gauteng and the Western Cape have hired private security; those provinces also have the highest percentage of households (about 7 percent) which have a weapon for protection.
  • Everyone thinks corruption is increasing, and overwhelmingly people feel that the corrupt are motivated by greed and the the desire to "get rich quickly".
  • Bribes are most likely to be paid by people wanting jobs.
  • Guns and knives are criminals' weapons of choice: guns are mainly used in hijackings and home robberies, while knives are frequently used in robberies and assaults.
  • Coloureds are more afraid of "dressing an anyway you want" and expressing their sexual orientation than other race groups.
  • Indians and Asians are the most fearful about walking to town.
  • About two-thirds of people believe that burglars, thieves, robbers and violent criminals live in the same areas as their victims, just under a third believe they're from somewhere else in South Africa, and less than 6 percent think they're foreigners. (In the Northern Cape, 80 percent believe the violent perpetrators are locals.)
  • Although across the country, households feel that police visibility has dropped, most people will call the police for help before calling anyone else.
  • Prisoners are more likely to be welcomed into communities in Mpumalanga and least likely in KwaZulu-Natal; they're more likely to get jobs in the North West and least likely in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • And nearly two-thirds of the country thinks the government should prioritise putting money into economic development to combat crime, which is three times as much as those who want more law enforcement.