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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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By unknown | Oct 02, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Ido lekota

Ido lekota

Despite the public perception that levels of poverty have increased along with the crime rate in South Africa since 1994, a report released by the government on its performance over the past 15 years shows that this is not the case.

According to the report unemployment has also decreased from 30percent in 2003 to 23percent this year.

"Poverty has come down since 1994," said government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe at the release of the report at the Union Buildings.

He said that the unemployment rate decreased because "the number of jobs created now can cope with the rate at which job seekers enter the labour market".

Netshitenzhe pointed out that despite these improvements, income inequalities persisted because "those at the top of the income distribution benefited more than those at the bottom".

The report uses two poverty datum lines to reach its conclusion - the lower line is R174 a person per month and the upper line is R332 a person per month on 2000 prices. These figures are adjusted in line with inflation.

According to the report, 52,54percent of the population lived on R322 per month in 1995. This was reduced to 20,61percent in 2005. Those living on less than R174 a month decreased from 30,92perecnt of the population to 7,15percent in 2005.

Africans remain the most affected by poverty. Although they made up 79percent of the population in 2005, they accounted for 93percent of those living on less than R322 a month.

The report also reveals that although female-headed families were the main beneficiaries in the government poverty alleviation programme, poverty remains disproportionately female.

"In 2005 more than half of those considered poor lived in female- headed households. In contrast, only 43percent of the population lived in female-headed families," states the report.

The report reveals that the level of reported crimes increased from 1998 and peaked in 2003 and then began to decrease.

Netshitenzhe said there was perception that crime had increased post 1994 and this was because there had been an increase in violent crime.

"From 1994 to 2007, the murder rate decreased by 42percent. But the number of robberies increased substantially over the same period," states the report.

The increase in robberies corresponds with the fall in property crimes, mainly burglaries and vehicle theft. This suggests that criminals have changed their behaviour as the public improved the security of their properties.

It also reveals that progress has been made in combating violent crimes against women and children. This is because of the establishment of specialised courts and Thuthuzela care centres for victims of such crimes.

"Conviction rates in dedicated courts increased from 63percent in 2004/05 to 70percent the following year. Where there are Thuthuzela centres, convictions rates are higher."

Besides these successes, however, crimes against women remain high as a proportion of the overall crime rate.

More than half of common assaults and half of assaults with grievous bodily harm are perpetrated against women and children. Children are the victims of 40percent of the rapes.

Challenges the government faces include case backlogs and skills capacity, among others.


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