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40% of South Africans feel Unsafe walking in their Neighbourhoods at Night – survey

Feb 19, 2022

Only 40% of South Africans feel safe walking alone in their neighbourhoods at night.

According to findings from Statistics SA, in the Governance, Public Safety and Justice Survey 2020/21, carried out between April 2020 to March 2021, more South Africans felt unsafe walking alone in their neighbourhoods compared to the previous year.

In the 2019/20 survey, 42% of those surveyed said they felt safe walking in their neighbourhood alone at night.

During daylight hours, the number increased to about 85% of the population, compared to almost 87% in 2019/20.

Around a third of all South Africans had taken some measures to protect themselves against crime, irrespective of whether they had experienced a crime or not.

The most common protection measures were not walking alone and being more alert to surroundings, while around 8% of the respondents said they carried a weapon or had enrolled in self-defence classes.

Rural South Africans tended to feel safer than those living in urban areas, the survey found. It tied in with the fact that they were less likely to experience a robbery than their neighbours in urban areas.

The survey found that home robberies and burglaries had consistently been the most common crimes experienced by households in South Africa.

In 2020/21, an estimated one million incidences of housebreaking occurred, affecting 809 000 households (4.6% of all the households in the country). Around 141 000 home robberies occurred in 112 000 households in 2020/21 (0.6% of all households).

Yet only just more than half of the households, which experienced a home robbery or housebreaking, reported the crime to the police.

According to yearly crime statistics released by the police, there were 20 870 robberies at residential properties in the 2020/21 year. There were 159 721 cases of burglaries at residential properties.

On an individual level, most South Africans experienced theft, robbery and fraud.

The survey found that around 732 000 people had experienced theft of personal property during the 2020/21 year, with less than a third of all cases reported to the police.

Women were also more likely to experience theft of property than men.

More than 340 000 people had been mugged, and only half had reported the crime.

The crime statistics for the same period reflected the under-reporting, with 37 648 cases of common robbery and 119 841 cases of robbery with aggravating circumstances recorded nationally.

There were almost 500 000 incidents of fraud reported during the survey, most of which were advance-fee fraud (419) scams. Only 41% were reported.

Under the financial crimes category of the police statistics, there were 82 890 cases reported.

Crime expert Dr Guy Lamb, based at Stellenbosch University, said: “This is an indication of crime being high, but also it is an indication that they, the police, are not as visible as they could be. But the most important part of this report indicates that most women feel unsafe when they walk at night than men do.”

Lamb said it demonstrated that police should form strong relationships with neighbourhoods and policing forums to make areas safer.

“When people feel unsafe at night, it means that the cooperation is not as effective as it should be, and the police are not in the position to provide the patrols. The downward trend of safety is of concern,” he said.

Dr Johan Burger, of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), said the results from the StatsSA survey supported other survey results, which showed the extent of the public’s distrust of the police.

“We are concerned about this crime threat and especially since the police’s Crime Intelligence capability is still in need of reform. It certainly appears to be struggling to keep pace with the many organised crime syndicates operating in SA,” he said.

Courtesy of News24

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