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Crime stats are low – but that’s not how we see it

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TALI FEINBERG

Furthermore, less than a quarter of respondents (23%) have been the victim of a burglary in the past five years. However, as many as 87% of respondents believe crime is a big problem.

CAP Chief Operating Officer Sean Jammy said these statistics aligned with organisational data. “The finding that people’s perception of crime doesn’t mirror reality is consistent with CAP’s anecdotal experience. We are committed to continue to beat crime in all of our communities, and are focusing on communicating better so that perception mirrors reality.

“Crime throughout CAP’s communities has been stable for the past five years,” Jammy said. “There are variations in methodology, but in general, crime hasn’t escalated and in some areas, has decreased significantly thanks to CAP’s approach and our active community members.”

Jammy believes that the perception that violent crime is higher than it actually is follows the advent of instant messaging groups and other forms of social media. “These have resulted in crime being communicated extensively and often inaccurately.

“We encourage our community to be more critical about how crime is reported, the groups they are members of, and to strive to contextualise the crime they hear of. CAP issues a weekly newsletter to each of our communities with verified crime reports as well as lessons learned and security tips.”

In spite of the concern about crime, the survey shows that most Jews are settled and feel part of the wider South African society, with 74% having a “very” or “quite strong” sense of belonging in South Africa, and 61% feeling satisfied with their life in the country.

While gender-based violence has been in the spotlight recently, only 9% of Jewish women say they have been harassed in a public setting like a street or a shop in the past year, and only 3.9% have been the victim of a violent assault in the past five years. In fact, more Jewish men (6.9%) said they had been victims of violent assault than women in this time period.

In spite of this reality, male and female members of the community still feel unsafe. Sixty-six percent feel unsafe walking alone in their local neighbourhood after dark: 79% of women, and 51% of men. Overall, 68% of respondents in Johannesburg, and 61% in Cape Town feel this way.

Half of all respondents believe that crime has increased in their neighbourhood over the previous five years. While this is the case with 63% of Cape Town community members, only 43% of Johannesburg community members believe this.

The younger people are, the less likely they are to believe that crime has increased. Thirty percent of people in their twenties believe crime has risen compared with almost 60% of people in their fifties.

Yet, only 17% of community members see crime as their primary reason for wanting to emigrate. Respondents were asked to list the three main reasons why they would move to a different country in the next five years. In all three cases, the top reason given was “concern about the future of South Africa [political stability/government]”. One in three (33%) gave this as their primary reason for wanting to leave South Africa, followed, at some distance, by “personal safety concerns/crime”.

Those who said they had been assaulted in the previous five years were considerably more likely to consider leaving.

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