Why are South Africans Leaving the Country?

By June 7, 2019September 16th, 2019No Comments

Published: June 7, 2019

Even with majestic mountains and impressive coastlines, South Africans are emigrating by the hundreds of thousands, driven out by violence and instability.

According the South African news channel Carte Blanche, the government keeps no record of the number of people leaving the country. But, they know it is increasing- and at a fast rate. In a segment of Carte Blanche with reporter Derek Watts, he said, “In 2017, America’s Pew Research Center reported 900,000 South Africans living abroad. But the Homecoming Revolution, the global head-hunting firm for South Africa claims that true figure is 2.7 million.” Named the ‘The Great Migration,’ Carte Blanche says they are suffering another so-called ‘Brain Drain.’

Among those leaving are the skilled and educated workers that are responsible for major contributions to the economic and social wellbeing of the country. They are the medical doctors, the engineers, the finance specialists, and more. Most of these skilled professionals are leaving with net worths of over $5 million USD, equaling more than ZAR17 million, with each departure. Watts says, “For every professional person coming to South Africa, eight are leaving,” presenting South African with genuine concerns about the future of their markets and industries.

When asked why they wanted to leave, South Africans’ number one response was ‘violent crime.’ With a murder rate nine times higher than the United States and the fourth highest absolute murder rate worldwide, South Africans are exhausted by the fear that surrounds many of their daily lives and have an increased urgency to move their families to safety.

Just this past weekend, Stefan Smit, well known owner of the wine farm Louisenhof on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, was shot and killed in his home. After an invasion in early August, Smit sought help from the authorities, increasing security, and hiring more guards. His murder left the community shaken, further emphasizing that not even wealth or high social status can ensure one’s safety in South Africa.

And this alarming violence is not expected to change. Some South African cities have seen double digit increases in crimes reported since 2017. In addition to these dangers, loss of job security, economic and political instability, and concern for children’s safety, education, and opportunity, are factors that contribute to the high rate of emigration.

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