We all know crime is totally out of control in South Africa. Government departments, political parties, NGO’s and the press are all speculating on the causes and the cures for this appalling state of affairs. Days are spent in think tanks discussing the socio political situation and how to reverse the moral decline of our society. Last year the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) boasted about their 88% conviction rate, further confusing the issue. They neglected to point out that their definition of conviction rates involve only those cases brought to court. The vast majority of criminals are never even caught.
The fact is that South Africa’s conviction rate is closer to 5.7%. A staggering 74% of all violent crimes do not even make it to court. More than 17,000 people are murdered each year. More than 90% of the criminals that commit murder are never convicted.
In South Africa you have a 94% chance of getting away with murder
The answer to the question of what causes our extraordinarily high crime rate is very simple. The world average conviction rate is more than 50%. This means that if you commit a crime in the rest of the world there is a 50% chance that you are going to be caught and convicted. In South Africa however you have a 94% chance of getting away with it.
The fact is that crime pays in South Africa. Yes, there are many socio economic issues and inequality drives the criminals to do what they do, but the real reason is that crime pays. It’s easier to make a living through crime than to do honest labour. There is no effective deterrent. Not with such a low conviction rate.
It’s not the fault of our police force either. They are overworked and underpaid. We need to re-energise our police force. We need to invest more in recruiting and training quality policemen and women. We need to reverse this horrific statistic and that can only be done by arresting and convicting more criminals. It’s really not that complicated.