The South African Police Service and Stats SA recently published the country’s crime statistics for 2018, which showed an alarming increase in murder, cash-in-transit heists, rape, and bank robberies.
This, however, only tells part of the story. Stats SA’s latest Victims of Crime Survey reveals that only a small number of crimes are reported to the police.
In a recent article, economist Mike Schussler argued that criminals roam free without a big chance of being caught and convicted.
In contrast, honest and hard-working people live in fear, and have to bear the cost of crime on the economy.
Schussler said the cost of government corruption also sits at around R240 billion per year, with irregular expenditure adding another R100 billion to that figure.
The cost of violent crime in South Africa is even higher. The 2018 Global Peace Index said the cost of violence in the country is 24% of GDP and totals an astonishing R1.2 trillion per year.
The impact of crime is felt across all sectors of society, and has an extremely negative impact on economic growth, attracting and retaining skills, and agriculture to name a few.
The impact of crime on telecoms
Crime has a particularly big impact on telecommunications in South Africa and has forced companies like Telkom to change their strategy to compensate for high levels of criminal activity.
In 2016 Telkom revealed that copper theft cost it over R200 million in repair costs and security services.
The high level of services interruptions caused by cable theft forced Telkom to roll out LTE networks in areas with repeated incidents.
But not even mobile networks are safe from criminals, who cause tremendous damage to mobile base stations to steal batteries and copper cabling.
The images below show the damage caused by criminals to mobile base stations and telecoms networks in South Africa.
Crime preventing fibre rollouts in SA
In a particularly disturbing trend, criminals are now targeting fibre operators who are either rolling out fibre networks, or are trying to repair damaged fibre infrastructure.
Last year the FTTH Council Africa said crime targeting South African fibre installers has reached a critical point.
The council said fibre contractors are being robbed at gunpoint, hijacked, and having their equipment taken.
“People’s lives were threatened and gunshots fired while workers were attending to maintenance tasks next to public roads,” said FTTH Council Africa.
In August, Vumatel said it had to stop work in KwaZulu-Natal due to intimidation and threats against workers.
“This means that until the issues have been resolved, the contractors will be unable to attend to civil work or reinstatements,” Vumatel said.
In the latest incident, Openserve’s restoration of a major fibre route in Bishop Lavis was stopped after technicians and their security escorts were forced out of the area by residents.
The work will now only continue after the police give the green light that it is safe.
The video below shows two members of a fibre installation team being held up at gunpoint while thieves make off with their belongings.