Tackle job­less­ness, tackle crime

Grocott's Mail - - NEWS - By OPHE­LIA MIL­TON

Ac­cord­ing to Statis­tics South Africa, the coun­try’s un­em­ploy­ment rate came in at a stag­ger­ing 27.7% in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2017. Although this fig­ure re­mained un­changed from the pre­vi­ous quar­ter; it is the high­est un­em­ploy­ment rate the coun­try has seen since its peak in 2003.

Ac­cord­ing to Wits pro­fes­sor, Pru­dence Ma­jego, this in­crease in un­em­ploy­ment may hold dire con­se­quences for the coun­try’s crime statis­tics.

Ma­jego, a se­nior Eco­nom­ics lec­turer at the Uni­ver­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand, pre­sented her re­search at the Eco­nomic So­ci­ety of South Africa’s 2017 bi­en­nial con­fer­ence hosted at Rhodes Uni­ver­sity in Gra­ham­stown this week.

The So­ci­ety, es­tab­lished in 1925, is a dis­cus­sion fo­rum for econ­o­mist in aca­demic life, gov­ern­ment and busi­ness.

“What I have found in my pre­lim­i­nary re­search is that [given the cur­rent un­em­ploy­ment rate] the over­all crime rate may in­crease by ap­prox­i­mately 2.9%. This, how­ever, is not a fig­ure cast in stone” said Ma­jego.

Ma­jego is con­duct­ing re­search on the ef­fect of un­em­ploy­ment on crime in South Africa. She and her re­search partner, Mir­a­cle Ntuli, have found that un­em­ploy­ment and crime in South Africa go hand in hand.

Ma­jego ex­plained that prop­erty crimes, espe­cially bur­glary, are the most af­fected by an in­crease in the un­em­ploy­ment rate.

“We have found that when the un­em­ploy­ment rate in­creases, prop­erty crime rates in­crease as well. Prop­erty crime rates may go up by as much as 11% when the un- em­ploy­ment rate in­creases by only 1%”.

Ac­cord­ing to Crime Statis­tics South Africa, 3 371 crimes were re­ported in Gra­ham­stown last year. Prop­erty crimes made up 910 of this to­tal. Bur­glary at res­i­den­tial premises, at a stag­ger­ing 515 re­ported crimes, made up the high­est per­cent­age of this fig­ure.

The num­ber of re­ported crimes in the Gra­ham­stown area stands along­side an un­em­ploy­ment rate of be­tween 70% and 80% in 2016.

Crime re­mains a se­ri­ous is­sue in South Africa. Ac­cord- ing to a re­port re­leased by Statis­tics South Africa in May 2017, house­break­ing/bur­glary made up 50% of all crimes ex­pe­ri­enced by house­holds.

The re­port states that although oc­cur­rences of house­break­ing/bur­glary and home rob­bery have gone down in the last five years, the pro­por­tion of house­holds that think that crime is still in­creas­ing is on the rise.

In this, the num­ber of South African house­holds who no longer feel safe to walk in their own neigh­bour­hoods dur­ing both the day and night has also in­creased, Ma­jego said.

“The take-home mes­sage from our pre­lim­i­nary re­search has been that un­em­ploy­ment def­i­nitely has an im­pact on crime - vi­o­lent crime at that,” said Ma­jego. She said when it comes to crime and un­em­ploy­ment, one can­not tackle one with­out ad­dress­ing the other.

“If poli­cies were to be im­ple­mented that re­duced un­em­ploy­ment it would also have a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on the amount of crime we see in the coun­try, espe­cially rob­beries with ag­gra­vated cir­cum­stances.”

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