South African citizens are among the most fearful in the world and with good reason too – they live in the fifth most dangerous country in the world, according to the latest survey by Gallup.

The Gallup Law and Order Index gauges citizens from 144 countries’ sense of personal security and their experience of crime and law enforcement.

Respondents answered questions about their confidence in their local police force; whether they feel safe walking alone at night and whether they, or a household member, have had money or property stolen; and whether they have been assaulted or mugged in the last year.

The answers provided are used to produce an index score — a high score means that a high percentage of the population feels secure and vice versa.

In the 2020 report, based on polling done in 2019, South Africa’s ‘Law and Order Index’ score was 57, making it the fifth most dangerous country in the world.

Only Liberia (54), Venezuela (54), Gabon (52) and Afghanistan (43) were ranked lower.

South Africa’s score is at odds with the global average, which was 82 in 2019.

The survey found that most people around that world remained confident in their local police and felt safe in their communities, according to Gallup. On average, nearly seven in 10 people (69%) felt safe while walking alone at night and had confidence in their local police.

However, in South Africa, this is was not the case, as only 29 percent of citizens said they felt safe walking alone at night. When this is combined with the country’s low ‘Law and Order Index’ sc0re it paints a picture of a fear-stricken population, which has very little faith in its law enforcement authorities.

Citizens’ feelings of safety and security, best encapsulated by how safe they feel while walking alone, is typically linked to the economic prosperity and ‘strong rule of law’ of their countries. Nearly all of the people of Singapore feel safe, while in many Western European countries more than 80% of the population feel the same. This is also the case in highly-state controlled countries.

Gallup says that one in eight people across the world said they had property stolen in the last year, while 6% said they were assaulted or mugged. These statistics remained largely unchanged from 2018.

The global index scores have also remained stable since 2017, according to the report.

The survey results are based on approximately 1000 telephone and face to face interviews that Gallup conducted in each of the 144 countries throughout 2019. The respondents were aged 15 and older.

Picture: Wikimedia Commons

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