Those in business feel more unsafe - chamber survey

Carin Smith

Cape Town - More than 83% of the members of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry who took part in a recent survey, indicated that they feel more unsafe than they did five years ago.

The survey went out to more than 3 500 people in the Western Cape and only 2.4% of the members who responded, indicated they feel safer.

The survey revealed that roughly one in three people in business have had cell phones stolen and have had their houses broken into.

The direct impact on business was even greater with 43.37% of respondents reporting that their businesses had been burglarised in the past five years.

Nearly 40% of respondents said they or a family member had been a victim of violent crime, while 20% of businesses had suffered violent crime.

Almost half of the respondents (48.19%) had been victims of fraud and 55.42% knew first-hand of someone who had been offered or accepted a bribe.

Janine Myburgh, president of the chamber, said this was particularly alarming as bribery was one of those crimes frequently repeated and became ingrained as a pattern in order to get things done or to secure tenders.

Nearly 35% of respondents said they were satisfied with the response of the police when they needed them, but nearly 52% said they were not satisfied.

Only 13% had not required police services. The survey also indicated that private security firms enjoyed a much higher approval rating than the police with nearly 58% of clients satisfied and 25.5% dissatisfied.

The survey revealed strong support (75.9%) for the collective voice of business as a means to make for a better future for South Africa.

Myburgh admitted that the voluntary survey had a weakness in that it may have been skewed due to those who had suffered crime possibly having been more likely to complete it.

"Irrespective of the integrity of the sample, the views were so consistent that we think it is valid and reflects some of the major concerns of business,” said Myburgh.

“We know we have a high crime rate, but those statistics tell only half the story. The other half is the way crime affects the productive people in our economy, the people who make the investment decisions to economic growth and creating the jobs.”

According to the latest Business Confidence Index (BCI) released earlier in November, South Africa's business confidence index recovered from a 22-year low in October.

The improvement was mainly influenced by retail sales volumes, merchandise export volumes and share prices, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said at the time.

In August SA's fell to its lowest level in more than 16 years.