Shirley Wakefield – Panda Keeper at Pondering Panda gave us the week’s highlights in terms of their surveys conducted with the youth of SA.
Shirley Wakefield in conversation with BizRadio’s Grant Jansen
Podcast | Click HERE to listen
The majority of young South Africans want the death penalty to be reinstated. It was found that more than three in four young South Africans think the death penalty should be reinstated as the highest form of punishment for criminals. Altogether 6 900 young people between 18 and 34 years took part in the survey across the country.
76% thought capital punishment should be reinstated. 80% of all respondents also believed that having the death penalty would deter criminals and reduce crime. The figures showed a sense of desperation that something needed to be done about crime. “The government needs to make tackling crime in SA central to its agenda if it does not want young people to be further disillusioned about its ability to protect them and keep them safe,” said Wakefield.
Crime Line largely unsuccessful amongst young South Africans
It was found that the majority of young South Africans knows criminals in their communities, but are reluctant to report them via Crime Line, or Crime Stop. 6343 respondents, aged between 15 and 34 were interviewed across South Africa, and asked about their perceptions of crime and whether they reported criminal activities they were aware of. The majority of respondents (59%) claimed to be acquainted with at least one criminal, but only 1 in 4 said they had ever used Crime Stop or Crime Line, the anonymous tip-off lines supported by the South African Police Service. When it came to reporting crime, 70% of all respondents claimed to be aware of Crime Line and/ or Crime Stop. However, only 36% of those who were aware of these services claimed to have ever used them to report a crime – 25% of the total sample.
The survey found that a number of factors were deterring young people from using these services to report crime. 31% of those who were aware of Crime Stop and Crime Line, but had not used either, said they had not reported a crime because they had not personally witnessed it. The second-most prevalent reason (19%) was fear of the criminal finding out that they had reported the crime. Respondents also did not report crimes because they were unaware of the telephone number to use (17%), and because they thought it wasn’t worth the effort, as the police wouldn’t do anything (16%).
Wakefield, said, “It’s clear that young people are an untapped resource for police, and with their help we can both reduce crime and ensure better reporting and statistics. There is still too much ignorance regarding Crime Stop, and Crime Line. Communication efforts need to be improved, so that all members of the community are aware of the system and know exactly how to report crime. In addition, people need to know that just because they didn’t personally witness a crime, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t report a known criminal. They also need to know that police will be effective in making arrests and protecting their identity.” Wakefield went on to add, “What is most worrying is that a significant amount of crime is going unreported. This is supported by other research we have done which shows that young South Africans perceive crime as getting worse – despite government figures showing a drop in crime.”
Government becoming more corrupt
Young South Africans feel that corruption in government is getting worse, but support the DA’s call for the naming and shaming of corrupt politicians as a way of combating it. 4197 respondents, aged between 18 and 34 were interviewed across South Africa, and asked about their perceptions of corruption, and how to best fight it. 69% of respondents felt there was more corruption in government now than a year ago, 18% felt it was at about the same level, and 8% felt there was less corruption.
When asked if they thought letting everyone know the names of politicians guilty of corruption would make a difference, 58% believed there would be less corruption if this were the case, while 38% thought such action wouldn’t have any effect. The remainder of respondents was unsure about the impact it would have.
The perceptions regarding corruption, and how to stop it, were broadly held across all demographic groups.
Wakefield said, “It’s clear that young people see government as stuck in a spiral of corruption, and would welcome any measure that helps stop it. As our other surveys have shown, young people feel corruption affects them directly, because it diverts money into the pockets of corrupt politicians and officials – money which could otherwise be used to improve education, infrastructure and create job opportunities. Young South Africans support the naming and shaming of corrupt politicians, but the fact that almost 2 in 5 think it won’t change anything shows that there is a significant lack of faith in the government.”