The 2018 Global Peace Index by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) shows that South Africa’s reputation as one of the most violent and dangerous places on earth is getting worse.
The index measures peacefulness according to three broad categories (militarisation, safety and security, and domestic and international conflict), sub-divided into 23 smaller indicators.
Also factored in is the cost of violence, expressed as a percentage of GDP. Globally, the IEP measured this at 12.4% of GDP, meaning global violence costs $14.76 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms.
According to the report, South Africa ranks as the 125th most peaceful country in the world, out of 163 countries and districts measured. This puts it on the lower-end of the scale (in the lowest quartile), but still still some way off from war-torn regions like Syria and Afghanistan.
South Africa’s position on the list has worsened since 2017, having dropped two places from 123rd, and maintaining its place as one of the most violent and dangerous places in the world.
Across all indicators measured by the index, South Africa performs very poorly in six, with a perception of high levels of criminality; easy access to weapons; relatively high levels of political terror and high levels of violent demonstrations.
The two factors that stand out as the worst, however, are levels of violent crime and homicide, which is what pulls South Africa so far down the list of safe places.
South Africa’s reputation as one of the most dangerous places in the world is also apparent in the overall societal safety and security category, where it ranks within the bottom 20 in the world – ie as the 18th most dangerous place, socially (factoring in crime and social violence).
When looking at murder rates, at the time of the report the country’s murder rate was recorded at 33 people per 100,000 population – putting it within the top 10 most violent places on earth.
However, recent statistics published by the South African Police Service has shown that the country’s murder rate has grown, and is now sitting at 36 murders per 100,000 people – or 57 murders a day.
While the country’s murder rate is not quite the same as a war zone, as has been reported – it is incredibly high for an area that is not a war zone, while specific areas within South Africa have murder rates higher than some war zones.
When calculating the cost of violence, South Africa ranks as the 15th most costly in the world, with costs taking up 24% of GDP, totalling $175.2 billion, or $3,052 per capita (in PPP terms).