n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Exploring the fear of crime among South African emigrants in Perth, Western Australia

Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



A study by Xie and McDowall (2008: 829), found that people who are victimised in a particular neighbourhood often move to another. Interestingly, they also found that neighbours or people that had been victimised, also tended to move as a result of the victimisation of other people in their neighbourhood. This shows that the influence of victimisation spreads wider than the actual victim and may cause people to move from their present area to a safer one. Criminal victimisation also leads to a more hidden but enduring problem: fear of crime that could become contagious: spreading similarly to a virus. The study amongst a group of South Africans who immigrated to Australia, New Zealand, England and Canada provides some insights on the factors that motivated them to leave South Africa. There are a plethora of studies that focus on victims of crime, in particular the Victims of Crime Surveys that provide ample data on victimisation and feelings of insecurity. South Africa has been labelled the crime capital of the world, particularly as far as the rates for murder and rape are concerned. It is common knowledge that people have left South Africa for many reasons, but crime, as a motivating factor to emigrate, is repeatedly reported in the media. This study particularly addresses the reasons why people left South Africa to settle in Perth, WA. No less than 96,1 percent of the respondents indicated there was a need to escape criminal victimisation in South Africa. Other reasons are: to be free from political discomfort (88,3%), better appreciation of their qualifications and skills (71,8%), escaping affirmative action (64,1%), finding a better job (62,1%) and although serious (contact) crime ratios decreased from 5287 in 2003/4 to 3608 in 2011/12 per 100 000 of the South African population, people's fear of murder and especially aggravated robbery have stabilised (SAPS 2012: 6-7). Compared to the high rate of victimisation before their departure to Australia, the research revealed that none of the respondents, since their arrival in Perth, Western Australia, had experienced any criminal victimisation.

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