At least 50% of South African businesses have been directly affected by contact crime during the past 12 months, according to Grant Thornton’s 2011 International Business Report on business owners’ perceptions.

 National chairman of Grant Thornton SA, Leonard Brehm, comments: “This figure is still unacceptably high, with half of the survey population being directly affected by crime in the past year. The sad conclusion is that crime is still a major problem in South Africa.”
South African business owners were asked if they, their employees or any of their immediate families had been directly affected by contact crimes (road rage, hijackings, personal security threat, violent crime or housebreakings) in the past year – 50% said yes.
The good news is that the responses are lower each year.  “When we started surveying the impact of crime on South African private businesses in 2007, an astonishing 84% had been directly affected by crime during the 12 months under review,” says Brehm.  “Now, just five years later, the figures are almost 35% lower.”
In terms of business owners considering emigration, the figures also indicate a lower percentage each year.  In 2009, 32% responded they were considering leaving, while 2010’s data reveals 18% and in 2011 17% of South African business owners have seriously considered leaving the country permanently, as a result of the impact of crime.
Business owners’ reasons for considering emigration have changed since 2010. The high crime rate – still the number one reason causing business owners to consider emigration – was an astonishing 93% in 2009 but has declined year by year to 56% in 2011.
Increasingly, the political climate is a reason for business owners to consider emigration with 46% citing this as a concern this year compared to 42% during 2010. The regional data relating to the political climate as a reason to emigrate reveals further interesting findings.
Gauteng (57%) and the Eastern Cape (62%) recorded the highest responses as to whether the political climate is a concern, with the Western Cape citing the lowest concern for this issue at 29%. Conversely, the Western Cape stated that the high crime rate in South Africa is their main reason for considering emigration (64%), followed by KZN (59%), then Gauteng business owners at 54% and Eastern Cape at 46%.
When South African business owners were asked to describe how the threat to personal security affected business operations, increased costs of security (48%) and decreased motivation (20%) were the two most important items identified.
“This is a clear indication that organisations experience a serious financial impact from crime,” says Brehm. “Overall, though we are encouraged by the fact that that there has been an improving trend over the years but the effect and cost of contact crime on business remains appalling.”
Meanwhile, 51% of South African business owners state that their businesses have been negatively affected by government service delivery.
Grant Thornton has released findings relating to South African-specific factors affecting business – which will now be tracked on a quarterly basis as part of the International Business Report (IBR). Government service delivery is one of the four elements to be tracked for South Africa in the firm’s quarterly IBR tracker.
“Business owners state that utilities such as gas and electricity are the biggest service delivery element negatively impacting their business (30%) with billing issues (20%) and road concerns such as potholes and traffic lights a secondary concern (20%),” says Brehm.