An internal survey conducted by the Cape Chamber of Commerce has found that 40% of respondents have experienced a criminal act – such as burglary, robbery or theft – in the past 12 months at their place of work.
The chamber represents businesses in the Western Cape.
Geoff Jacobs, the chamber's president, said the picture would look "a lot worse" if crime involving public transport, pedestrian routes and homes were also included.
"We have a major challenge ahead and we cannot rely solely on the police to combat crime. We will all have to work together if we are to reduce the trauma and cost of crime."
Jacobs said the survey found that crime was causing trauma for staff and increasing absenteeism. Almost all respondents have been spending money on upgrading their security, he added.
Police response varied drastically, the survey found.
In response to a question about police response times, 35% of respondents who had experienced a criminal act said police had reacted quickly. Some 40%, meanwhile, said there had been "no response at all from the police when they were called".
"Clearly, this is an unacceptable situation and it has a depressing effect on the economy and job creation," said Jacobs.
The results of the survey were released on the same day that Western Cape Premier Alan Winde unveiled a new provincial anti-crime strategy, which includes 3 000 new law enforcement officers.
Winde said the SA Police Service had been unable to keep the people of the province safe.