Crime is going down, but we are not feeling any safer

The recently released Victims of Crime Survey results found that crime levels have been gradually declining. With South Africans experiencing lower levels of crime, it is expected that communities would feel safer. Instead, the survey reveals that declining crime trends were accompanied by deteriorating feelings of safety among households. According to the survey, the percentage of households who experienced at least one incident of crime decreased from 9% in 2015/16 to 7% in 2016/17, while feelings of safety when walking alone in their neighbourhood when it is dark decreased from 31% to 29% in the same period.

With 1,2 million South African households having experienced 1,5 million crime incidents in 2016/17, male-headed households (7,5%) were more likely to be victims than female-headed households (6,6%). Households headed by coloured (8,9%) individuals were the most likely to be victimised, while households headed by black Africans (6,9%) were the least likely.

A comparison of crime types shows that housebreaking/burglary (53%) was the most common crime experienced by households in 2016/17. This was followed by theft of livestock (11%) and home robbery (10%). Housebreaking/burglary is also the most feared crime among households in South Africa. It is therefore not surprising that the majority of households were actively taking measures to protect their homes (51%).

Although households took measures to protect their property, the fear of crime persists in preventing them from engaging in daily activities such as going to open spaces (32%), allowing children to play outside (20%) and walking to town (15%).

The government is tasked with ensuring the safety and security of its citizens. A thorough understanding of crime dynamics in the country is essential for enabling strategic interventions.

The full report is available here.