THE general prevalence of crime in Cape Town is having a traumatic effect on 82% of staff employed by members of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, according to a Chamber survey.
In 52% of cases respondents described the effect as “very much so” while 29% used the phrase “somewhat”. Just over half of these respondents said that the effect was significant.
The survey also revealed that the effects of crime on staff increased the absenteeism rate according to 56% of the respondents. In addition, 20.6% said there was a significant loss of man-hours and 37.4% said there was a slight loss of man-hours.
“We think that the results of the survey give us a wider picture of the often unseen effects of crime on the people of Cape Town,” said Mr Geoff Jacobs, President of the Chamber. “In fact, the situation may be worse because we also have ‘presenteeism’ where people may be at their desks or work benches but they are too traumatised to focus on their work.”
More than 38% of respondents said they had experienced a criminal act (burglary, robbery, theft etc) in the past 12 months and in 21% of these cases staff had been physically attacked or threatened by criminals. More than 10% were physically injured. In an attempt to contain the situation, 96% of respondents said they had invested in more burglar bars and alarms linked to security firms and the police.
Mr Jacobs said the survey also showed that businesses and their staff were not getting enough support from the police. In response to the question on how quickly police had reacted when called, only 35% said there had been a quick reaction. In response to another question on the issue 40.8% said there was no response at all from the police when they were called.
“Clearly, this is an unacceptable situation and it has a depressing effect on the economy and job creation,” said Mr Jacobs. “This is dramatically revealed in the response to the final question in the survey on whether companies would expand locally or invest in another country. Nearly 58% said they would go offshore while just 21% said they would invest locally.”
Mr Jacobs pointed out that the survey concentrated only on the impact of crime on people at their places of work. “We believe the picture would look a lot worse if we extended the survey to cover public transport, pedestrian routes and residential areas.
“We have a major challenge ahead and we cannot rely solely on the police to combat crime. We will all have to work together if we are to reduce the trauma and cost of crime,” Mr Jacobs said.