A survey conducted by Statistics South Africa has shown that up to 60% of South Africans live in fear of housebreakings; making it the most feared crime in the country. The statistic far exceeds the 37% who live in fear of being murdered. The survey also showed that 31% of South Africans feared sexual assault, whilst 40 feared being the victims of street robbery.
The Victims of Crime survey is conducted on an annual basis amongst 30 000 South Africans, across all nine provinces and in various different communities. The results of the survey are extrapolated to the current size of the population, to bring about a reasonable guess of what the nationwide opinion is. The survey itself includes data from the police.
Another notable statistic was that most crimes were observed to have taken place at night. In the case of burglaries, this suggested reluctance on the part of criminals to have any sort of confrontation with homeowners.
Stats SA executive manager, Isabelle Schmidt, said that whilst the survey centered on whether people were victims of such crimes, it also addressed circumstances surrounding them. With break-ins, they sought to uncover whether perpetrators were caught as well as whether they were known to the victims. However, due to the long length of the survey, they were unable to go into any detailed line of questioning.
“It is really a long questionnaire that takes an hour of somebody’s time when they respond to it. So we unfortunately can’t cover everything in great detail,” she said.
Despite this they were able to note that in most break-in cases, signs of forced entry were evident. She noted that in 41% of cases doors had been smashed, whilst a further 46% of cases saw perpetrators gain access via the windows.
“What we did find in the Western Cape specifically, was that households are more likely than in other provinces to fortify and strengthen their homes against possible entry,” she noted.
The line of questioning also sought to uncover whether victims know who the criminal was. Schmidt suggested that most crimes in the country, particularly when it came to assault, were perpetrated by someone close to the victim. The consensus in the case of break-ins was that most people believed the burglar to be someone within their own neighborhood.
“Crime in SA is very much linked to our values as a society, and where we come from as a community. It’s not always someone from outside that comes in and violates our property, but it’s quite often the people we know,” she suggested.
There were some positives however. The survey showed satisfaction amongst households with the level of policing. Most noted seeing a policeman on patrol in their area at least once a day. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)