Three Ways in Which Crime Would Negatively Impact Equal Access to Basic Services

On this page we describe three ways in which crime would negatively impact equal access to basic services.

The Shadow of Crime: How It Hinders Equal Access to Basic Services in South Africa

Crime, a pressing concern in many nations, carries implications far beyond its immediate victims. In South Africa, a nation striving for equality and development post-apartheid, the repercussions of crime echo deeply in its societal structure, particularly when it comes to equal access to basic services. This article delves into three primary ways crime hinders this crucial aspect of nation-building, using South African examples for context.

Three Ways in Which Crime Would Negatively Impact Equal Access to Basic Services

In South Africa, crime significantly impacts equal access to basic services in various ways. Firstly, infrastructural disruptions such as copper cable theft lead to power outages, and vandalism of water facilities can result in unequal distribution of essential utilities, leaving some communities without these services. Secondly, criminal attacks, like those on healthcare workers in areas like the Western Cape, deter professionals from providing their services in high-risk regions. This could lead to diminished health and emergency services in certain areas. Lastly, corruption, especially in public procurement, diverts funds intended for service delivery. Instances of “state capture” in the past decade have seen billions of Rand siphoned off from public projects, delaying or even halting the delivery of essential services like housing and electricity to those in need.

1. Disruption of Service Delivery Infrastructure

Example: Cable Theft and Vandalism: In several parts of South Africa, incidents of cable theft have disrupted essential services. For instance, copper cable theft from electricity infrastructure has led to power outages in communities. Similarly, vandalism of water infrastructure can result in water shortages. Such crimes mean that even when the government allocates resources to ensure equal access, the actual delivery gets impeded, creating disparities.

2. Deterrence of Service Providers

Example: Attacks on Healthcare Workers: There have been reports of ambulances being attacked or healthcare workers being mugged in certain areas, particularly in the Western Cape. Such incidents make it risky for professionals to operate in these regions. Over time, there’s a real risk of service providers either demanding higher wages for the added risk or outright avoiding areas deemed high-risk. This means communities in these crime-ridden areas could have reduced access to health services compared to safer regions.

3. Diversion of Public Funds

Example: Corruption in Public Procurement: South Africa has, unfortunately, seen instances where public officials embezzle funds meant for service delivery. The 2010s saw allegations and inquiries into “state capture”, where billions of Rand supposedly got funneled away from public projects. This high-level corruption means that funds intended for infrastructure development and service delivery are siphoned off, delaying or stalling projects. As a result, the promise of equal access to basic services such as housing, electricity, or clean water remains unfulfilled for many.


While crime is often viewed in terms of its immediate victims, its ripple effects can be profound and far-reaching. In the South African context, where the promise of equal access to basic services is a cornerstone of its post-apartheid vision, crime presents a formidable barrier. Addressing this issue is not just about law enforcement but ensuring that the nation’s broader goals of equality and social justice aren’t derailed.

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