The VCS series is a countrywide household-based survey that has three main objectives:
• Provide information about the dynamics of crime from the perspective of households and the victims of crime
• Explore public perceptions of the activities of the police, prosecutors, courts and correctional services in the prevention of crime and victimization
• Provide complimentary data on the level of crime within South Africa in addition to the statistics published annually by the South African Police Service.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
Households and individuals
v1.0: Edited, anonymised dataset for public access
Version 1 of the dataset was downloaded from Statistics South Africa's website on the 20th October 2019
VCS focusses on people's perceptions and experiences of crime, as well as their views regarding their access to, and the effectiveness of the police service and the criminal justice system. Households are also asked about community responses to crime. The survey profiled different aspects that are inherent in the different types of crime, such as the location and timing of the different crimes, the use of weapons and the nature and extent of the violence that takes place.
The lowest level of geographic aggregation covered by the data is province.
The target population of the survey consists of all private households in all nine provinces of South Africa and residents in workers' hostels. The survey does not cover other collective living quarters such as students' hostels, old-age homes, hospitals, prisons and military barracks, and is therefore only representative of non-institutionalized and non-military persons or households in South Africa.
Producers and sponsors
Statistics South Africa
Government of South Africa
VCS 2016/2017 uses a Master Sample frame which has been developed as a general-purpose household survey frame that can be used by other Stats SA household-based surveys. VCS 2016/2017 collection was based on the Stats SA 2013 Master Sample. This Master Sample is based on information collected during the 2011 Census conducted by Stats SA. In preparation for Census 2011, the country was divided into 103 576 enumeration areas (EAs). The census EAs, together with the auxiliary information for the EAs, were used as the frame units or building blocks for the formation of primary sampling units (PSUs) for the Master Sample. There are 3 324 primary sampling units (PSUs) in the Master Sample with an expected sample of approximately 33 000 dwelling units (DUs). The updating of the Master Sample as compared to previous VCSs is expected to improve the precision of statistical estimates.
The Master Sample is designed to be representative at provincial level and within provinces at metro/non-metro levels. Within the metros, the sample is further distributed by geographical type. The three geography types are Urban, Tribal and Farms. This implies, for example, that within a metropolitan area, the sample is representative of the different geography types that may exist within that metro.
The household sample weights were constructed in such a manner that the responses from the respondent households could be properly expanded to represent the household population. The final weights are a product of several adjustments to the original selection probabilities (design weights). These include: adjustments for PSUs that were sub-sampled or segmented, excluded population from the sampling frame, nonresponse, weight trimming and benchmarking to known household estimates.
In the final step of constructing the household sample weights, the adjusted base weights were calibrated such that the aggregate totals match with the independently derived (by Stats SA Demography Division) household estimates by the head of households age, population group and gender at national and provincial level. The calibrated weights are constructed with a lower bound on the calibrated weights of 50 within StatMx. The estimates used to calibrate VOS 2011 through 2016/2017 were the Mid-November 2010, Mid-November 2011, Mid-May 2013 and Mid-May 2015 population estimates, respectively, based on the 2016 mid-year population model. The household estimates were benchmarked to national and provincial totals.
The individual level weights were also adjusted, and then calibrated using the Population Estimates of Mid May 2016 (based on the 2016 series). The final weights were benchmarked to the known population estimates of 5-year age groups by population groups by gender at national level, and broad age groups at province level. The 5-year age groups are: 0-4, 5-9, 10-14, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69,70-74, and 75 and older. The provincial level age groups are 0-14, 15-34, 35-64; and 65 years and older. The calibrated weights are constructed such that all persons in a household would have the same final weight.
VCS 2016/2017 had an extra level of selection where one person, 16 years or older, was selected per household to complete sections 21 to 28 of the questionnaire. The individual weights were benchmarked to an estimated national population of age 16 and older in Mid-May 2014. Records for which the age, population group or gender had item non-response could not be weighted and were therefore excluded from the dataset. No additional imputation was done to retain these records.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Statistics South Africa
Government of South Africa
The questionnaire was developed based on the questions used in the International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS), previous VOCSs (both conducted by ISS and Stats SA) with modifications in some instances. The Stats SA questionnaire design standard for household surveys was also used as a normative reference. In order to minimize fieldworker and capturing errors, the questionnaire was largely pre-coded. Sections 10 to 20 of the questionnaire represent household crimes for which a proxy respondent (preferably head of the household or acting head of household) answered on behalf of the household. All analysis done in this report that included demographic variables was done using the demographic characteristics of the household head or proxy. Section 21 to 28 of this questionnaire required that an individual be selected using the birthday section method to respond to questions classified as individual crimes. This methodology selects an individual who is 16 years or older, whose birthday was first to follow the survey date.
In the VOCS 2016/17 questionnaire, respondents were asked what they thought could be the motive for perpetrators committing crime. This question was asked differently in 2016/17 as compared to the previous years. Users are advised to use caution when these responses across the series.
Prior to 2014/2015, VOCS respondents were asked about their crime-related experiences in the previous calendar year, but since 2014/15 VCS changed to a Continuous Data Collection (CDC) method. In this data collection method, respondents were interviewed on a rolling basis over the course of a year and asked about crime experienced in the 12 months prior to the interview. As a result of this, the victimization experiences reported by respondents interviewed in a period of 12 months relate to a broader span of 23 months.
Statistics South Africa. Victims of Crime Survey 2016-2017 [dataset]. Version 1. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa [producer], 2017. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/g8zj-gn22