South Africa’s 3 most violent cities to live in

Cape Town has seen a spike in its murder rate, giving the city the dishonour of climbing a global ranking of the world’s most violent cities.

Listed as the most violent city in South Africa, Cape Town now ranks 11th on a list compiled by the Mexican Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice – this is after dropping to 15th on the list in 2017.

The report lists the 50 most violent cities by the number of murders per 100,000 people, only considering cities with populations exceeding 300,000, where murder statistics are made available.

As with previous years, the majority of the world’s most violent cities are in the Americas, particularly Mexico and South America. South Africa has the dubious honour of being the only non-American country listed.

In the 2018 list, Cape Town ranked 11th with a murder rate of 66.4 per 100,000 people – far worse than the 62.3 per 100,000 people in 2017. In 2018, Cape Town had a population of 4,322,031 people and 2,868 homicides.

In South Africa, two other cities are listed outside of Cape Town: Durban, and Nelson Mandela Bay.

Nelson Mandela Bay saw its murder rate worsen from 37.5 per 100,000 in 2017, to 39.2 per 100,000 in 2018, making it again the second most violent city in the country. It ranks 45th, globally.

In 2018, Nelson Mandela Bay had a population of 1,220,616 people and 478 homicides.

Durban’s murder rate also increased marginally, from 38.1 per 100,000 in 2017, to 38.5 per 100,000 in 2018 – however, its position on the overall list improved, from 44th in 2017, to 47th in 2018.

In 2018, Durban had a population of 4,055,969 population and 1,562 homicides.

Despite its reputation for high levels of crime, Johannesburg’s murder rate was not high enough to be ranked among the top 50. Joburg was last featured in the ranking in 2015, when it was ranked 47th.

South Africa’s murder rate

In 2018, the South African Police Service published crime stats for 2017/18, revealing an unsettling increase in the number of murders taking place in South Africa over the period.

According to the SAPS, there were 20,336 murders in South Africa between April 2017 and March 2018 – a 7% increase from the previous year.

This puts the country’s murder rate at close to 36 people per 100,000 population – with police minister Bheki Cele noting that 57 people are being murdered each day.

A further breakdown of the data showed that murders of women and children have also increased, accounting for just under 20% of all murders.

Seven of the 10 worst precincts in the country were in the Western Cape.


Most violent cities in South Africa (murder rate)

City 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Cape Town 51.0 60.0 65.5 60.8 62.3 66.4
Nelson Mandela Bay 35.7 34.9 35.8 39.2 37.5 39.2
Durban 32.4 34.7 35.9 34.4 38.1 38.5
Johannesburg 33.3

Most violent cities in South Africa (ranking)

City 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Cape Town 20th 14th 9th 13th 15th 11th
Nelson Mandela Bay 41st 35th 42nd 43rd 46th 45th
Durban 48th 38th 41st 50th 44th 47th
Johannesburg 47th

Of the 50 cities in the ranking, 17 are located in Brazil (down from 19 in 2016), 12 in Mexico (up from 8), 5 in Venezuela (down from 7), 4 in the United States, 3 in Colombia (down from 4), 3 in South Africa, and 2 in Honduras, and 1 each in El Salvador, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Jamaica.

The overwhelming majority of the 50 most violent cities in the world are in Latin America (42 cities).

These are world’s most violent cities, including South Africa’s cities:

# City Country Homicides Population Rate per 100,000
1  Tijuana Mexico 2 640 1 909 424 138.26
2 Acapulco Mexico 948 857 883 110.50
3 Caracas Venzuela 2 980 2 980 492 99.98
4 Victoria Mexico 314 365 089 86.01
5 Juarez Mexico 1 251 1 462 133 85.56
6 Irapuato Mexico 473 580 808 81.44
7 Guayana Venezuela 645 823 722 78.30
8 Natal Brazil 1 185 1 587 055 74.67
9 Fortaleza Brazil 2 724 3 939 460 69.15
10 Ciudad Bolívar Venezuela 264 382 095 69.09
11 Cape Town South Africa 2 868 4 322 031 66.36
45 Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa 478 1 220 616 39.16
47 Durban South Africa 1 562 4 055 969 38.51

Read: This is South Africa’s murder capital

Latest news

Partner Content

Show comments

Follow us

Recommended

South Africa’s 3 most violent cities to live in