ISS questions value of violence report

2012-01-18 07:00

Cape Town - The credibility and value of a report by a Mexican organisation claiming Cape Town is the most violent city in Africa was questioned by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on Tuesday.

"It is almost reckless to say that. This simplistic type of comparison can create all types of perceptions," ISS senior crime and justice researcher Johan Burger said.

"We are very sceptical and question the value that it really adds to anything. We have decided not to take it too seriously."

The 2011 Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice report ranked Cape Town as the 34th most violent city in the world.

The non-governmental organisation placed the metropole above Mosul in Iraq (44th place), Durban (49) and Johannesburg (50).

Murder rate per 100 000 residents

The report ranked the 50 most violent cities by calculating the murder rate per 100 000 residents.

San Pedro Sula in Honduras was considered the most violent, followed by Cuidad Juarez in Mexico and Macei in Brazil.

The report calculated a rate of 46 murders per 100 000 people in Cape Town.

It used a population figure identical to that of a community survey conducted by Statistics SA in 2007.

It is unclear where the murder rate was drawn from.

"I think when one looks at this kind of study, and we often see this kind of study making all kinds of claims and comparisons, we are always very careful," Burger said.

"Throughout the world, the definition of crimes vary and the recording systems are different. The problem is we are not quite certain what methodology they applied, what criteria they used and what definitions [they have] of crime."

Burger said using murder as a crime indicator was inappropriate.

"Most murders, over 80%, happen between people who know one another and in poorer communities as well."

He said these murders, committed largely in Cape Town townships like Khayelitsha, had little to do with good or bad policing and more to do with socio-economic conditions.


"If you want to look at crime types, you should look at violent crimes in general the picture is different. South Africa is also one of only a few African countries who actually publish its crime figures," he said.

The ISS questioned the accuracy of the report's figures, saying it was difficult to make an accurate comparison of crimes in metropolitan areas.

The SA Police Service's statistics focused on a national and provincial level, rather than metropolitan areas.

Burger said such studies had little value as they only created a so-called psychosis of fear among residents in certain areas.

  • David - 2012-01-18 00:39

    If the credibility and conclusions of the study (for Cape Town) are questionable, what is the good Dr Burger proposing as replacement South African city with the highest murder rate? Or does he believe that the credibility and conclusions for all SA cities on the list must equally be questionable, perhaps even to the extent that no South African city should be on this list? As I understood it to be, the study was of the relative safety of ALL inhabitants of one city compared with those of another city, using the murder rate as the bench mark. Even if 80% of all murder victims knew the perpetrator, this doesn’t change the murder rate. Being from a poor community doesn’t make murder less of a crime, nor have less of an emotional effect on that community.

      Squeegee - 2012-01-18 07:34

      David, perhaps another way of looking at it would be to consider where you would want to live or where you would feel relatively safe to move about. Excluding certain areas of Gauteng/Greater Joburg, Cape Town and Durbs, where would you feel free to walk about, go sightseeing, visit a resaurant, etc? Some areas skew the stats more than others. I would not want to visit Khayelitsha, but feel safe in Cape Town. However, there are few areas of Joburg I feel safe in, etc..

      Darryl - 2012-01-18 07:51

      Apparently you don't read so well, so I'll summarize for you. There are a number of problems with the study and, yes, the problem would relate to other South African cities too: 1. "It used a population figure identical to that of a community survey conducted by Statistics SA in 2007". The population statistics used were 5 years old. 2. "It is unclear where the murder rate was drawn from". Since the population stats are 5 years old, and they're clearly not using any statistics known to the ISS, we can probably assume they made them up. 3. "SA Police Service's statistics focused on a national and provincial level, rather than metropolitan areas". So statistics for provinces and the country as a whole are released and not generally for just one metropolitan area. Again making the unknown statistics used by some random magazine in Mexico suspect. 4. "not quite certain what... definitions [they have] of crime". This is a very valid concern. In one country a crime might be considered murder, where in another it is considered manslaughter or something else. 5. "placed the metropole above Mosul in Iraq". This doesn't sound suspicious to you at all? 6. "South Africa is also one of only a few African countries who actually publish its crime figures". Therefore saying it is the most violent city in Africa is meaningless. There's nothing to compare it to. In short: a completely meaningless article from an untrustworthy source using old / invented statistics.

      Nicholas.Spaggiari - 2012-01-18 10:16

      South Africa publish crime figures?? Rubbish, how can their figures be reliable when firstly, no-one wants to pay officers asking for money to file a simple report and secondly, when the minister of crime who was nailed for corruption toyed with crime figures to score his fat bonus.

  • Thompho Muhanganei - 2012-01-18 07:31

    i think the Dr. Just have to accept these findings, they didnt take a sample like other researches done out there. They just compiled info from cities that was already there. Perhaps he wanted jhb to be the more violent one.

      DuToitCoetzee - 2012-01-18 08:49

      I thought the title here to claim is "the most in Africa". Please think!!! Look like the Mexicans need some Cape Town tourists.

  • Rob - 2012-01-18 07:35

    However you reengineer this report it shows that South Africa's 3 largest cities all fall within the top 50. Whatever the criteria used to generate the report, asuming those criteria were applied consistently this is a sad indictment on the state (or should I say STATE) of SA and the general morality of the population. Still, with a bit more effort the ANC may be able to push the rankings up the scale next year, and maybe even include Bloem and PE!

      Lenand - 2012-01-18 10:04

      The report did state that this only reflects countries that have crime statistics. It also pointed out the Mexico often understates their crime figures. I would suspect that not being in the list does not mean your city is the safest. Would you go to Mogadishu or Cape Town?

  • mfecanetv - 2012-01-18 07:51

    this organisation must do such research in their own country and stop tainting the name of S.A, C.T is the best place to be in Africa & the world

  • Josh - 2012-01-18 07:51

    The big thing is that in Cape Town, the violent areas are VERY concentrated like in the flats where gangs are a serious problem, but it might as well be 1000 miles away. We live a life style here that people dream of. We walk to shops. We troll on the mountain, we walk on our streets at night. We drive with our windows open. Do you do that in JHB?

      Greg - 2012-01-18 08:31

      You're missing the point of the report. If you want a study about a city where you can jaywalk and not be run over by a car then it's the wrong report that you are reading.

      Lenand - 2012-01-18 10:05

      @Josh The majority of Capetonians live in the Cape Flats. So, one can argue that the areas with no crime are concerntrated, rather than the areas with crime.

  • George - 2012-01-18 07:52

    This is what they think of sa. Almost the Crime capital of the world.

      Lenand - 2012-01-18 10:07

      There are more Mexican, Brazilian, American cities, and how does that make us "Almost the Crime Capital of the world" also consider that this is countries that mantain crime data. Other countries are so bad, they dnot even bother.

  • Greg - 2012-01-18 07:57

    The entire debate about this debate is because it suggests that Joburg is safer than Cape Town. If the positions were reversed then nobody would even talk about it. I think SA as a whole should be appalled to even make it into the report. Lastly it's disingeneous for posters to suggest that Cape Town stats should exclude the Cape Flats.

      Riaan - 2012-01-18 08:19

      Oh really? A distinction should be made between the metropolitan area and the city itself. Of course the metropolitan area will have a higher murder rate. It's because all the gang killing in the cape flats, Mannenberg and your brothers killing each other in Khayalitsha.

      Lenand - 2012-01-18 10:08

      @Riaan. Surely, such distinctions would apply to every city in the study

      Riaan - 2012-01-18 10:37

      Lenand Maybe you should learn how to read. To state that Cape town in the murder capital of Africa is disingenuous. Cape town is the City, not the metropolitan area.

  • Andries - 2012-01-18 07:59

    One can only cry at what a peaceful, well run, well planned, safe place SA used to be. Viva ANC

      Gian - 2012-01-18 09:21

      Nostalgia for the pass laws?

      Lenand - 2012-01-18 10:11

      I grew up in Gugulethu under apartheid and I remember the police used to use gangsters to manage any protests against apartheid. We had the witdoeke in KTC and Crossroads and crime was absolutely rampant such that many companies devised a plan to pay their empoyees using bank accounts, instead of the cash they used to get. I am 42 years of age and I fear I must have missed the South Africa you refer to.

  • Meshack Letswalo - 2012-01-18 08:16

    What actually are you querying Dr. Figures or CT, because you seem to give tacit approval for Jhb/Dbn positions on the league. We can swap CT and Jhb positions, will you be happy now, and accept the survey?

      Lenand - 2012-01-18 10:34

      Yes, the jist of the protestation is not that any South African city is included in the report. What irks them is that Cape Town is deemed the city with the most murders in South Africa and the rest of the world. Instead of questioning the obvious faults of the report i.e. exclusion of even more dangerous cities like Mogadishu, Karachi, etc because these cities do not maintain any crime statistics. I suspect, as you say, if Johannesburg was deemed Crime Capital of the world, the ISS would not have bothered to dispute the study.

  • John - 2012-01-18 08:26

    Its fine - let people think CPT is shyte and dangerous - the influx of people moving here is getting ridiculous. stay away people, its bad for your health to move here. you can come visit - but please go back home... bad cape town! stop killing people! could swear its the city that kills people... people kill people

      DuToitCoetzee - 2012-01-18 08:57

      Yip, we are not doing it with water, sickness, germs, filth, heart attack on service deliveries, etc. We do it quick and with less pain. Tik, knifes and guns. Pathetic survey. Seams some-one else need our tourists. I support your sentiment John. Just a pity some will not understand what it really is. :)

      John - 2012-01-18 11:34

      DuToitCoetzee - the thumbdowner proved your right :) But I am relieved a few got it...

  • david.lebethe - 2012-01-18 08:56

    The problem with report is that it failed to take into account that CT is a whiteman's last post. Before most SA whites, the city is well run and has the best administration compared the whole of teh country. Like Burger aptly stated, the only areas where there is prevalence of violence areas such as Khaletsha. To him (and his analysis are reflective of white mindset), Khaletsha is just another place outside CApe-Town. He talks as if, those who run administration of the city are not accountable to people in Khaletsha? Regardless of how hard it is, we must just swallow the report, finish and klaar.

      Riaan - 2012-01-18 10:39

      Last post, nogal. Who's fault is it that the rest of the country looks like a slum? Do you expect the white man to fix it up on behalf of the ANC? Useless cretin.

  • Charmaine - 2012-01-18 09:02

    What is there to dispute about? Human beings killing humans every where, every day on this Planet, does it really matter in which City, or which Country? The killing will still carry on, families will still cry and mourn, we have no guarantees that we will be alive tomorrow, any one of us can be killed by another Human Being at any given time. I love all the comments below. Perhaps we should all meet and discuss these issues with The ANC Government and ask them what they are doing and intend to do to stop the killing of our people here in South Africa.

  • Gian - 2012-01-18 09:16

    What a fuss for nothing. The news is rather useless, too: why taking care of a report by an unknown mexican institute, when the same conclusion - Cape Town is the place in SA with the higher number of homicides - was stated by an UN report published on south african medias on the 13th October, 2011. Anyway, I see again that any issue is good for the fascists and the racists to come out with their frustrations

  • Dawie - 2012-01-18 09:19

    Propaganda for the Soccer World Cup 2014...!

  • Lenand - 2012-01-18 10:28

  • Never-apologize - 2012-01-18 10:40

    Funny Comments, justification and the defence of self proclaimed...

  • Jerome Ricardo Harry - 2012-01-19 08:19

    Its gone political here,Cape Town accolades-Worlds Best city-cnn travelmag_advisor-Design Capital of the World-Table Mountain-7th wonder-best run City-best looking city-Despite this report from an ngo in Mexico that's very much skewed I have a sense of envy towards Cape Town-Stay away and miss out on Cape Town at your peril-Im not condoning crime but I sense a bit of political propaganda- to bad Cape Town rocks!

  • martin.havenot - 2012-08-27 11:42

    There is no way that this is correct as the SAPS crime stats are totally wrong as the anc and their buddies in the saps miss report the figures so sa doesnt look as bad as it really is

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