South Africans who have no access to technology and are forced to meet Stats SA enumerators in person for the census, which starts next month, will have a choice of participating in the counting in public places such as churches or shops if they fear they will become a victim of crime.
It is compulsory for every person to be counted and the Statistics Act imposes a R10 000 fine or a six-month prison sentence on anyone who refuses.
However, the country’s high crime rate may discourage people from allowing enumerators into their homes, in case they are criminals disguised in Stats SA uniforms.
On farms and in far-flung rural areas where people have no internet connection, physical counting will probably take place there.
Stats SA spokesperson Trevor Oosterwyk said people would not have to complete the questionnaire inside their homes and could do so at their gates, or go to a church or a shop nearby.
Oosterwyk said Stats SA had established long-term relationships with crime-prone farmers and their unions, so it would be easy to arrange for enumerators to visit them.
“People are scared of crime,” he said, “and our enumerators can be identified by their clothing and an identity number that can be verified with us. A picture of the enumerator can also be downloaded from our website.
“However, it’s rare that we have people [who are] unwilling to participate.”
Stats SA will be conducting its fourth census since 1994. It has recruited 160 000 contract staff members to traverse every nook and cranny of the country for the 2022 census, which will be conducted throughout next month, and has budgeted R3.3 billion for the project.
Census data is used for planning, monitoring and evaluation, and gives a picture of the number of people and households in the country.
The last census was conducted in 2011, when it was found that the population of South Africa had increased significantly from 40.6 million in 1996 to 51.8 million.
In 2016, the figure was revised to 55.7 million based on population data such as births and migration since the 2011. The latest figure, which includes data from the UN and the World Bank, puts South Africa’s population at just under 60 million.
The 2011 census also showed that:
- There was a noticeable increase in the percentage of the population in Gauteng – from 19.3% in 1996 to 23.7% in 2011 – while the percentage of the population in KwaZulu-Natal remained almost constant (21.1% in 1996 to 19.8% in 2011). The Northern Cape was found to have the lowest population (2.5% in 1996 and 2.2% in 2011). The Eastern Cape showed a marked decline from 15% in 1996 to 12.7% in 2011;
- The black African population group had the highest proportion – more than 70% in all provinces except the Northern Cape and the Western Cape, where the percentages were 32.9% and 50.4%, respectively. On the other hand, the coloured population was highest in the Northern Cape and the Western Cape; and
- In 1996, the highest percentage of the Indian or Asian population was found in KwaZulu-Natal. The Western Cape and Gauteng had the highest percentages of the white population group, at 21.4% and 22%, respectively. These figures declined to 15.7% and 15.6%, respectively, in 2011.
Oosterwyk said that people who had access to the internet could self-enumerate by downloading the questionnaire on the website and sending it back.
Oosterwyk added that nothing would stop the start of the census, even though there had been “minor hiccups”.