While Gauteng and Western Cape are considered as two of South Africa’s top provinces in terms of living standards, it seems the opposite is true when considering human rights.

These provinces were the poorest performers on the Personal Rights component, which is comprised of the indicators: trust in police, trust in courts, perceived justice in violent crime sentencing and racial discrimination.

This is according to the new Social Progress Index (SPI) released in October by IQbusiness, in partnership with the non-profit organisation Social Progress Imperative. The sub-national edition of the index was formulated to showcase the social and environmental outcomes of the nine South African provinces and aims to give a practical measurement of the impact that government policies have on the ground.

The outcomes have proved to be damning, particularly for the personal safety (crimes indicators like the murder rate, households affected by crime, robbery with aggravating circumstances, malicious damage to property and households affected by crime) and personal rights (perceived justice in violent crime sentencing, racial discrimination and trust in related institutions like the court system and police force) components.

Scored out of 100 for each component (with 100 being the best possible score), the Western Cape scored the lowest on personal safety with 21.91, while Gauteng scored the third lowest with 55.59.

On personal rights, Western Cape again scored the lowest at 33.55, with Gauteng close behind with the second-lowest score of 34.33.

Limpopo scored the highest in both categories with 89.46 on personal safety and 64.43 on personal rights, while KwaZulu-Natal scored 63.07 and 38.39 on personal safety and personal rights respectively.

“The areas of South Africa which have been associated with the highest standard of living and the most urban development – including Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria – are showing the lowest scores, in terms of trust in the police and the justice system,” says IQbusiness CEO, Adam Craker. “However, these are the areas where access to policing, courts of law and other peacekeeping infrastructure should be the highest.”

This seems to suggest that the larger a province’s population density and the more urbanised it is, the more popular opinion that there are no perceived consequences to crime. So people are more likely to commit one.

Larger South African statistics seem to back up the Index. The 2019 SAPS annual crime report showed a significant 22% drop in the number of crimes detected through police action, despite a conservative one percent increase in total reported crimes.

Stats SA reported in September that, while densely populated provinces like KwaZulu-Natal had an increase of 0,3% in murders (and the Free State’s numbers decreased), Gauteng reported a 6,2% increase and 6,6% in the Western Cape.

“The provincial SPI was launched to challenge the country to rethink the way it gauges its progress and the way we do business and operate,” says Craker. “It allows us to measure the progress that will enable better decision-making, especially when determining priorities and budgets, which can help advance the lives of South Africans.”

Ranging from educational opportunities available to clean drinking water and the protection of human rights, the Index covers a number of finer, often less studied facets to the social and environmental health of a country.

Of these, undoubtedly, the personal safety component is acutely relevant to social progress in South Africa, due to the high levels of violent crime experienced and observed.

“As South Africans, and especially those within the Gauteng and Western Cape regions, we should take these figures as an impetus to improve our police enforcement, law enforcement and basic regard for one another’s personal safety. We have a great country that can be made even better with our citizens’ experiencing greater personal safety,” concludes Craker.