First published at on 3 Feb 2008, and reproduced here with permission.

Many South Africans can and will identify with the frustration of reporting crimes here in South Africa. In the past few weeks, a number of houses in our complex have been victim to a number of petty crimes. In most cases a few hundered rand was stolen, nothing worth mentioning by South African standards. So when I approached many of these individuals about their incidents and asked whether they had reported the crimes, the usual negative responses came as no surprise to me.

The government has taken great pride in reporting over the past 2 years that the incidents of certain crimes have reduced dramatically. I am fairly confident that the reason for these stats is because the crimes are not being reported. The alarming thing is that the repercussions of not reporting crime extend way beyond a bi-annual crime report.

  • Police resources (officers, tools, cash) are deployed to areas where they are needed most. Logically, the best way to measure this is to measure the incidents of crime in an area. So when crimes are not reported, the limited police resources are reduced even further thus compounding the problem
  • As citizens of a police district we are unaware of the crimes taking place and thus are lured into a false sense of security, believing that all is well in the land, when in fact criminals are operating in our own back yard.

There are many things that need to be done to address crime. There are socio-economic macro plans which need to be implemented, additional resources need to be provided to the police force, eliminating corruption in the police force, and facilitating better communication between police and the communities they serve.

So much to be done. Such a daunting task.

The journey of a hundered miles starts with a single step. Surely your step would be to do whatever you can to report the crime, no matter how hard and tedious.