Half of South Africa believes most police officials are corrupt
Vusumuzi ka Nzapheza:
Half of South Africa believes most police officials are corrupt, according to Robert Mattes, director at UCT's Centre for Social Science Research.
His findings, published in the Institute for Security Studies' crime quarterly bulletin, are based on public opinion surveys done by Afrobarometer and the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) from 1994 to 2006.
Mattes found that given the heat generated by media coverage of crime and opposition parties' critiques of government performance in tackling the problem, crime replaced fears of political violence and became one of the most prominent public concerns after 1994.
Between 1997 and 2000, six in 10 South Africans rated crime as the second most important problem government should address, ranking only behind job creation.
In the run-up to the 1999 national elections, the levels of public emphasis on crime fell and crime lost its position as the second most prominent problem. It fell below housing, poverty and HIV and Aids.
"Over the years, government has fended off questions about these public concerns, often chalking them up as the whinging of previously protected white communities now exposed to the same realities long endured by black South Africans.
"The data, however, paint a far more complex reality with 55 percent of black respondents listing crime as a priority problem," according to Mattes.
Crime was one of the five most cited problems by all groups in 2006, rated as the second most prominent problem by 48% of whites and only the fifth most frequently mentioned by blacks.
Mattes ascribes the decline to the emergence of other problems competing for public attention like HIV and Aids.
South Africa's police chief, his friend the murder suspect, and the crime syndicate