Orania crime-free

As well as boasting the best refuse collection service in the Northern Cape, Orania markets itself as ‘crime-free’, but these claims have been challenged recently – Photo: Epog Argief / Flickr

Is Orania crime-free? Fact-checkers, politicians aren’t so sure…

Can Orania really describe itself as a ‘crime-free community’? The hotly-contested debate has intensified over the weekend.

Orania crime-free

As well as boasting the best refuse collection service in the Northern Cape, Orania markets itself as ‘crime-free’, but these claims have been challenged recently – Photo: Epog Argief / Flickr

Doubts have been raised about Orania’s ‘crime-free’ status, after political heavyweights and professional fact-checkers weighed into the debate online. The ‘whites-only’ town isn’t shy to boast about its security record, but arguments to the contrary have surfaced over the weekend.

Does Orania have no crime?

The hot-button issue has returned to the public discourse, after a Tweet that asked for an open discussion on the matter went viral. When Peter Mansfield posed this question to his 13 000 followers, he probably wasn’t expecting such a robust response…

Fact-checker pours cold water on ‘crime-free’ town

Naledi Mashishi is a researcher for AfricaCheck – one of the leading fact-checking organisations on the continent. She openly questioned how Orania actually records its crime statistics, hinting that incidents like domestic violence and GBV could be going under-reported:

“I have doubts about Orania being crime-free. First of all, how is the crime data collected? Is this a community where victims of domestic violence/abuse/GBV are empowered to report?”

“This community has its own currency and its own national holidays. This makes me wonder about how crime is defined. Do they use SA laws, or their own? And how do those laws differ from SA laws, if at all?”

Naledi Mashishi

Criminal activity ‘present, but not frequent’ in Orania

Her scepticism was backed up by two former DA politicians. Phumzile van Damme – who currently works as a ‘disinformation buster’ – went into bat first, recalling that the town’s former President Carel Boshoff had to step down due to allegations of corruption in 2019.

Accused of illegally using public money to buy a car worth R100 000, the leader’s actions were not conducive with a crime-free community.

“The President of Orania used the community’s funds to buy himself a Mercedes, gave himself a 45% salary increase and took overseas trips. You can take a South African leader out of SA but you can’t take the corruption out of him.”

“So anyway, those are my thoughts. They too have chowed through public funds, much like the ANC they hate so much.”

Phumzile van Damme

Contentious community comes under heavy scrutiny

There’s very little denying that, in comparison to the rest of South Africa, Orania does have low crime rates. A lack of inequality and a very small, heavily-vetted population of 2 500 residents are huge factors to consider, here. But Lindiwe Mazibuko would not describe it as crime-free…

The DA’s former Parliamentary leader-turned-academic made reference to several criminal cases – including the alleged rape of a pupil by a student teacher, and the Poppie van der Merwe abuse scandal – that have been reported in Orania over the past five years or so.

These may be isolated incidents, but as far as the critics are considered, they are enough to disprove the claims they don’t agree with: