Spot Check

Zuma claim that South Africans ‘beginning to feel safer’ is misleading

Members of the South African Police Service, and other emergency services, take part in the National Launch of the State of Readyness For FIFA World Cup. Photo: AFP/Rodger BoschThe South African Presidency’s Twenty Year Review, which was released this week, claims that despite high levels of crime, the country’s citizens are “beginning to feel safer”. A reader asked us to look into the claim.

The Twenty Year Review cites Statistics South Africa’s Victims of Crime Survey which, it says, “found that over 40 percent of households felt the levels of violent crime had decreased in their area of residence during the period 2008 to 2010”.

That is correct, but what the Review does not say is that more than 30% of households believed crime had increased and that a quarter of the population believed crime levels had stayed the same. The survey cited in the report is also not the most recent. It dates from 2011.

The 2012 Victims of Crime Survey paints a slightly different picture.  According to that report: “About 37% of households believed that the level of both violent and non-violent crime had decreased in their area of residence during the period 2009 to 2011. About 35% said that crime had increased, while less than 30% of the households believed that crime had stayed the same.”

The numbers of people who believe that crime levels have gone up is increasing and it cannot be said that South Africans are “beginning to feel safer”.

According to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), house robberies have increased by 92% and business robberies by 345% since 2003/04. The most recent 2012/13 crime statistics showed notable increases in violent crimes. For the first time in six years there was an increase in both the number and rate of murders and attempted murders. Murder numbers increased by 4.2%, compared to the previous year. Attempted murder cases increased by 10,1%.

Data collected by the ISS also indicates that while total crime levels have fallen since a peak in 2002/03, they are still at a higher rate now than in 1994. – Africa Check 13/03/2014