That South Africa has some of the highest crime rates in the world, was highlighted in last year August when the Quarter One Crime Statistics 2021 /2022 were released by South African Police Minister General Bheki Cele. This is therefore not good for the country’s travel and tourism since one doesn’t have to deeply analyze the statistics to be scared of destination South Africa; the all-around figures are telling in the categories that were represented in the Minister’s presentation.
For the tourism industry’s growth potential, this poses threats, since it scares away would-be tourists whether they are international or domestic. There is no doubt that South Africa is still very popular with both segments of tourists but at the same time, it shouldn’t be rocket science to imagine that significantly lowering the high crime rates would likely contribute to a higher growth rate of the tourism industry and therefore much-improved job opportunities.
Speaking at an exclusive interview with Nomad Africa at his Sandton offices in Johannesburg, John Akinribido the CEO of 2414 Media Group who also doubles as the Executive Publisher of Nomad Africa magazine says;
“South Africans generally have a huge appetite for travel. In this respect, the high crime statistics have the potential to keep would-be domestic travellers indoors while many interested in venturing into businesses including taverns, liquor outlets, night clubs, sporting activities, and other places of entertainment would be reluctant to do so. These places generally form the backbone of nightlife-based tourism yet they, unfortunately, form business operations that attract crime perpetrators or as the Police Minister said, are “causative factors of crime.” This unpleasant picture contributes to a good number of tourists shying away from generally going out for leisure or patronizing the above places. In other words, it takes away the shine off what could be a great value-add to South African tourism and the job creation market.”
The increase in most crime categories further add to the broader picture of scaring away potential local people from travelling to experience their own country in huge numbers. The crime trends may be contributing to a lot of people not going out, thus, reducing the foundation on which the local tourism industry could build on for growth.
It is therefore imperative for efforts to be directed in this particular context to increase adequate crime prevention mechanisms, to mitigate the shock and fears that may arise from the industry’s underperformance as a result of low or stymied growth.
Equally the crime trends and figures properly define the impact of the level of fear in many would-be holidaymakers, or potential short-left enthusiasts, especially as the sub-categories of crimes such as contact crimes, sexual offenses, aggravated robberies, contact-related and property-related crimes have in this last reported statistics recorded a never seen before double-digit increases.
While the figures weren’t ordinarily catastrophic, the nation of South Africa should have a reason to worry, as domestic tourism, one of the country’s biggest revenue earners and employers, is being affected.
While it’s understood that there won’t be any attempts to sweep the high and scary figures under the carpet, there should be an urgency to instead bring to the fore a holistic picture of the damage being done to the local tourism industry. This is in perspective to the country’s ever ballooning unemployment rate, currently standing at 34.4% as reported in the second quarter of 2021 and said to be the highest since the start of the QLFS in 2008 (Stats SA – Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QFLS)
The figures breakdown call for urgency, with contact crimes such as murder, attempted murder, sexual offenses, and all categories of assault having registered a 60, 6% increase, compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.
In the three months of the Minister’s report, a 66, 2 % increase in the murder rate was recorded.
Between April 2021 to end of June 2021, 5 760 people were killed in South Africa, placing the number of people killed 2 294 more in comparison to the corresponding period in the previous year.
While for the period under review the reported statistic for the top 30 murder stations, Khayelitsha, Phillipi East, and Bityi in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape recorded decreases in murder figures, still the general perception is that the beautiful nation of South Africa still has to do more with crime prevention and precisely to boost its domestic travel and tourism industry that holds so much potential.
The picture is made gorier as the Minister described the volumes of murder as still “high”. While the murder rate was in the same year compared to what some reports have described as “literal warzones” elsewhere globally, like Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan.
The causes of murder have been explained from a sample of 4 467 cases that a total of 2 531 people were murdered in public places like on the street, open fields, parking areas, and abandoned buildings, pointing to the reality that our safety is still very much at stake.
Two hundred and six (206) of the murders occurred at liquor trading outlets and are the fourth most likely place where someone is to be killed in South Africa. The liquor trading segment alone could be even more vibrant, as South Africans have proven their strong love for beer beverages and therefore helping to make further significant contributions to leisure and travel. If South Africans are more likely to lose their lives at these points, then it reduces the numbers of people that would partake in beer drinking and, therefore the prospects of the leisure industry would be negatively impacted.
As the Minister put it, overall, contact crimes increased by 60.6% compared to the same period last year, if a comparison was made to the period before the country went into lockdown Level 5, 4, and 3.
The top four causative factors of these murders are arguments, robberies, mob justice incidents, and gang-related killings.
According to the police chief, the 47.1% increase was recorded for sexual offenses when compared to the previous reporting period, placing this figure at 5.0% compared to the previous normal period of 2019/2020 year.
Again, all the above scares away locals from experiencing their leisure, more so when women view it as dangerous for them to be who they want to be, for instance, on their own, day or night.
Under the same reported period all assault categories increased to double-digits compared to the reporting period of 2020/2021, with 76 936 cases of common assault and assault GBH and of these over 15 thousand of the cases were domestic violence-related. The top three areas of occurrence of these assaults are at the home of the victim or perpetrator, public places, and liquor outlets.
Arguments are by far the leading causes of the assaults and again this huge statistic induces fear in people preventing them from being who they are more so when they seek entertainment through beer beverages that constitute a large part of the entertainment industry and therefore leisure.
Aggravated robberies such as carjacking increased by 92.2% compared to the previous corresponding period.
There were 1 340 more residential robberies from April to June 2020, compared to the corresponding period in the previous year. Compared to the 2019/2020 financial year, there are 132 more cases recorded.
In the words of the Police Minister, “…more work must be done to ensure the safety of all those who live within our boarders.”
“Again the image is not good looking into that in 2020/2021, South Africa was ranked among the most unsafe countries in the world, according to the global polling group, Gallup, contributing to citizens living in constant fear. The group said the country ranked the fifth most dangerous country out of the 144 countries covered,” John Akinribido concluded.