2007-01-24 : Corrupt cops and crime foremost on SA's mind

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2007-01-24 : Corrupt cops and crime foremost on SA's mind

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2007-01-26 08:33


Corrupt cops and crime foremost on SA's mind

By Vusumuzi ka Nzapheza

Half of South Africa believes most police officials are corrupt, according to Robert Mattes, director at UCT's Centre for Social Science Research.

His findings, published in the Institute for Security Studies' crime quarterly bulletin, are based on public opinion surveys done by Afrobarometer and the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) from 1994 to 2006.

Mattes found that given the heat generated by media coverage of crime and opposition parties' critiques of government performance in tackling the problem, crime replaced fears of political violence and became one of the most prominent public concerns after 1994.

Between 1997 and 2000, six in 10 South Africans rated crime as the second most important problem government should address, ranking only behind job creation.

In the run-up to the 1999 national elections, the levels of public emphasis on crime fell and crime lost its position as the second most prominent problem. It fell below housing, poverty and HIV and Aids.

"Over the years, government has fended off questions about these public concerns, often chalking them up as the whinging of previously protected white communities now exposed to the same realities long endured by black South Africans.

"The data, however, paint a far more complex reality with 55 percent of black respondents listing crime as a priority problem," according to Mattes.

Crime was one of the five most cited problems by all groups in 2006, rated as the second most prominent problem by 48% of whites and only the fifth most frequently mentioned by blacks.

Mattes ascribes the decline to the emergence of other problems competing for public attention like HIV and Aids.

Besides the continued, though decreasing public dissatisfaction with the levels of crime, the SA Police Service's public image remained poor.

Last year, 40 percent of respondents said they found it easy to get help from the police when they needed it while 49 percent said it was difficult.

In contrast to the racial patterns in ranking crime as a priority issue, 41 percent of white and 50 percent of Indian respondents were more likely to report positive experiences when getting help from the police than blacks (39 percent) and coloureds (37 percent).

The SAPS was rated as more user-friendly in the Free State (74 percent) and the Western Cape (62 percent). Police in Gauteng (33 percent), KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape (37 percent) got the lowest ratings.

- *This article was originally published on page 8 of Cape Times on January 25, 2007
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