Safety and security

Safety and security issues remain of major concern for South Africans. According to SA Fast Facts, South Africa has the 18th largest prisoner to population ratio in the world. Although Crime Stats SA shows a variance in crime levels from 2004 to 2015, levels of serious crime remain high. It is paramount for both police and private security companies to work together to maintain law and order.

Overview of CSI spend

Safety and security initiatives were supported by 16% of companies and received 1% of CSI expenditure in 2016.


Big picture figures

  • The Department of Correctional Services budget increased from R20.6 billion for the 2015/16 financial year, to R21.6 billion in 2016/17.
  • The International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) reported a decrease in the South African prison population total, from 165 840 in 2008 to 154 648 in 2014.
  • In 2013, the Minister of Correctional Services stated that each inmate cost taxpayers R9 876 per month.
  • According to the ICPS, as at March 2015, 2.6% of the prison population were female and, as at March 2014, 0.2% of prisoners were juveniles.
  • A leading researcher at the Centre for Psychology and Law at the University of the Free State indicated that up to 80% of all criminals in South African prisons were repeat offenders.
  • Crime Stats SA reported only a 0.2% decline in total crimes, from 2.26 million in 2014 to 2.25 million in 2015. Approximately 30% of all crimes reported from 2004 to 2015 were either burglaries at residential properties or some form of assault.
  • According to SA Fast Facts, South Africa currently has a police to population ratio of approximately 1:308, thus ranking the country as the 9th best globally.
  • However, some areas in South Africa are under-resourced with less than the national average allocation. Over 30% of police stations in Cape Town (mostly in disadvantaged areas such as Harare, Nyanga and Gugulethu) have less than one police officer for every 500 people.
  • SA Fast Facts reveals that the South African police and private security companies currently employ 195 000 and 411 000 people by, respectively.

Guidelines for effective funding 

  • Substantial funding in this sector goes towards alleviating gender-based violence and other violent crimes. Because the incidence of such crimes is high, other threats to safety and security may be overlooked. Funders should consider the effects of non-violent crimes such as substance abuse.
  • Since violent and gender-based crimes usually pose long-term medical and social challenges to those affected, a holistic approach that seeks co-operation of all relevant stakeholders should be adopted. These stakeholders can then leverage their expertise and resources to combat crime. Funders can consider interventions that engage government structures, NPOs and businesses that are actively involved in tackling crime.
  • Successful programmes in this sector ensure that people feel safe in their communities. This is achieved by leveraging internal resources such as infrastructure, skills and other resources that can improve access to safety. When donating funds, it is imperative for programmes to address key social risks that affect communities.
  • More funds should be geared towards supporting victims of crime and violence, and rehabilitating past offenders to help integrate them back into society.