Well-heeled suburbanites ‘not main victims of crime’

2014-09-26 00:00

THE perception that wealthy suburban residents are the predominant victims of violent crime is incorrect, according to the Institute of Security Studies (ISS).

And murders in the middle to upper income areas were more often linked to household robberies and “contract killings” as opposed to drug- and alcohol-fuelled incidents in informal settlements and low-income social housing complexes.

ISS researcher Lizette Lancaster said affluent areas managed to “control the likelihood” of crime by taking measures to mitigate against risk such as private security.

Her comments come after the re-release of the provincial crime statistics for 2013/2014 after the initial release showed massive anomalies in a host of crimes including sexual offences and stock theft.

Lancaster said poorer residents living in “harsh conditions” felt the “brunt” of most crimes at their homes with little more than a door to protect them. “The perception that affluent areas are at greater risk of crime is incorrect. Often in poorer areas crimes go unreported. In fact there are more street robberies than house robberies and the former is often perpetrated against people who use public transport.”

She said KwaZulu-Natal’s murder rate of 34/100 000, like much of the country, was much higher than the global average of 6/100 000. The province was third to the Eastern and Western Cape respectively, although KZN topped the country’s list of the actual number of murders at 3 625.

“Previous research indicates that 65% of all murders are interpersonal conflict while about 16% are driven by robbery.”

She said in mixed income precincts crime will invariably happen in “pockets” and “not spread” and the affected areas are areas with “a high influx of people, poor, tough conditions and often fuelled by drugs and alcohol”. “You are safer in your fancy car and secure estate even though people don’t perceive this to be the case. Having private security gives a person a sense of trying to control the perception that they may be a victim of crime.”

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