A victimisation study conducted among 3300 householders in South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality (NMMM) in the Eastern Cape Province aimed to inform a crime prevention strategy for the metropolitan area. The study found that the variables ‘fear of crime’ – measured in terms of perceived likelihood of victimisation – and concern about ‘personal safety’ had greater negative influence on life satisfaction than actual victimisation. Individual crimes against the person had greater negative influence on subjective wellbeing and feelings of personal safety than property and other household crimes. Individuals who perceived themselves to be at risk of becoming a victim of crime also perceived greater risk of other misfortunes. However, materially better-off victims reported higher levels of life satisfaction than non-victims in spite of their crime experience. South Africa has high crime rates by international standards and fighting crime presents the country with one of its major challenges in the second decade of democracy. Nevertheless, findings suggest that the negative impact of crime issues on achieving the good life are overshadowed by issues of racial inequalities and poverty. The conclusion is drawn that residents of Nelson Mandela Metropole are hardy when it comes to living with crime but nonetheless suffer stress in doing so. From a methodological perspective, the discussion considers whether subjective crime issues such as fear of crime and personal safety should be regarded as personal or neighbourhood quality-of-life issues. Based on survey findings, the conclusion is drawn that concern for personal safety is both. However, a crime-as-neighbourhood-issue is more likely to attract remedial action on the part␣of␣local authorities to better protect citizens and allay their fears of crime.
crime victim fear of crime personal safety life satisfaction South Africa