Hi Malan, Thanks very much for this site. It's a welcome counterbalance to Neil Watson's racist site. Several people have stated in your "feedback" section that they feel crimexposouthafrica is playing a useful and positive role. I struggle to understand how hysterical fear-mongering plays a useful and positive role.
People say there are lies, damn lies and statistics. That's not really true. There are lies, damn lies and misrepresented statistics. The truth is many people don't take the time to properly understand statistics. Stephen J Gould illustrates the problem of using simple averages in "Life's Grandeur": If a million people all earn $1 and one person earns $1,000,000 a month, the average monthly salary is $1.99 - in other words the average is roughly double what 99% of people earn. i.e. The average doesn't accurately reflect the income of the vast majority of people at all.
A similar error is made time and time again when people use SA crime stats to vindicate their fearful attitudes. SA is a massively unequal society, as measured using the UNs GINI index. Contrast the high-walled, leafy suburb of Parktown to the densely packed squalor of the Cape Flats and you're clearly talking about two entirely different scenarios. National averages will tell you nothing useful about either. The truth is, you are much, much, much more vulnerable to crime if you live in a squatter camp and the most squalid areas of our highly unequal society are where we get our shocking crime statistics.
It doesn't mean middle-class suburbia doesn't suffer from crime - it does - but the statistics used to compare SA to, for instance, Colombia, are completely inaccurate as a description of what living in Parktown, Johannesburg is like.
Of course many middle-class SAn's, especially whites (and I say this as a white male) have a hard time believing this. A common perception among whites seems to be that they are a massively at risk group living in a situation of criminal anarchy. The truth, though, is that this ambient fear is at least partially informed by hysteria rather than facts or experiences. Perception and reality are quite far apart here. No doubt many, reading this, would instantly start recounting how they were robbed, how their car was stolen only last year, etc, etc, how a friend of a friend was raped.
But one thing immediately becomes clear when you can get people to honestly evaluate their experiences: fearful white SAn's suffer from an excess of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is when you always remember things that validate your view and always forget things that don't. A UK resident might know someone who knows someone who was violently raped, but quickly forget learning that fact. White SAns cling to such anecdotes, retelling them over and over again and remembering the smallest details.
No doubt there are some people who may read this who may directly have suffered from violent crime recently, but the truth is most of us haven't. Of the many, many women I know and have known (and many of them were the activist variety who are open about such things) only two have ever testified to being sexually assaulted. Both were sexually assaulted in the "old South Africa" when policing was allegedly much better.
SA is a dangerous place by the standards of most developed nations, but the reality of day-to-day life for middle and upper class SAns and tourists is utterly different to the horribly distorted picture painted by Neil Watsons site and similar sites.