Illustration: ISTOCK
Illustration: ISTOCK

As trust in the police plummets, South Africans are spending more of their own money than the entire police budget to protect themselves from crime.

Releasing the Victims of Crime Survey yesterday, Pali Lehohla, the statistician-general, said that the last time it had been checked the police budget was R30-billion and the public was spending about R45-billion to protect itself.

"There is R75-billion being spent [by] South Africans so that they can feel safe. Is this too much or too little money? Is it being optimally deployed?" asked Lehohla.

According to the survey, about 50% of households take physical protection measures at home to protect themselves from crime.

About 11.4% of households employ private security services and 5.5% of people now carry a weapon to protect themselves - compared to 5.1% in 2011.

Gauteng had the highest percentage (7.4%) of households with inhabitants who carried weapons as a protection measure with the Western Cape polling 7.2%.

The number of residences that beefed up their security - building high walls around homes, putting up razor wire or getting vicious dogs - increased from 49% in 2011 to 51.2% in 2015/16. This reached a peak in 2014/15, when it was 51.6%.

The Western Cape recorded the highest number of households (66.9%) that have increased home security, followed by 65.3% in Gauteng and 50% in Mpumalanga

The Western Cape also had the highest percentage of households (45.8%) that opted for physical protection measures to safeguard vehicles and Gauteng had 40.6%.

Households in Gauteng (19.4%) and the Western Cape (18.3%) were most likely to hire private security.

The results of the survey paint a picture of a society that is increasingly worried about crime, with home robberies the most common and most feared type of crime.

The survey also showed a decline in society's faith in the police and courts between 2011 and 2015/16.

The level of satisfaction with the ability of the police to deliver on their mandate declined from about 64.2% in 2011 to 58.8% in 2015/16.

The Western Cape was the most dissatisfied, satisfaction falling from 71.3% in 2011 to 57.1% in 2015/16. More people feel unsafe walking alone, day and night.

It found that parents in 22.6% of households prevented their children from playing outside because of the perceived threat of crime in their areas.

"This is an emphatic indictment of the police. People have lost faith in what police are capable of doing about crime," Lehohla said.

The survey also provides evidence of a decline in police visibility in the last five years and almost 41% of South Africans think crime had increased in their areas.

- The Times

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