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In light of the media frenzy over international sporting icon Oscar Pistorius, we checked the futurefact database to see how South Africans feel about shooting people who have “broken into” your home. Since the futurefact survey was conducted last year we didn’t ask about who the person you shot at might be and whether there was any mistake in the identity of the ‘intruder’. But, it does provide us with a ‘before the event benchmark’, unclouded by current emotions and hype of how South Africans respond to the statement: “When somebody breaks into your house you have the right to shoot to kill”.

We should start by setting the stage: In 2012, around 5% of South Africans (fewer than in previous futurefact surveys) said that either they or someone in their household had been a victim of a serious or violent crime in the past year.

Nonetheless, just over six out of ten South Africans aged 15 years and over and pretty well across the board said that they were “afraid and alert all the time in case I become a victim of crime”. This is indicative of the state of mind that prevails in the country and provides the backdrop for why some South Africans may be somewhat trigger happy or why over half of us believe that: “If the police and government do nothing about crime, ordinary people have right to take the law into their own hands”.

So what do you do when someone breaks into your house? 46% of South Africans believe that it is your right to “shoot to kill” such an intruder 44% disagree and 10% say they “are not sure”.

futurefact has been surveying the attitudes and beliefs of South Africans since 1998. The findings presented above are from futurefact 2012 which is based on a probability sample of 2,946 adults aged 15 years and over living in communities of more than 500 people throughout South Africa and representing 21.6 million adults.

If you would like to find out more about futurefact and its extensive attitudinal databases please contact Jos Kuper 082 904 9939 or check out www.futurefact.co.za