The most dangerous cities in South Africa to live in

South Africa has ranked as the third most dangerous country in the world, according to Numbeo’s 2020 crime index – with four local cities among the 10 most dangerous globally.

The Numbeo Crime Index is a perceptions index based on survey responses, where users were asked to score the level of crime in their country and city from bad (-2) to good (+2), where 0 is average.

The survey of in excess of 77,000 people, deals with citizens’ levels of fear around violent crimes, property being stolen, hate crimes based on ethnicity or religion, and even corruption and bribery.

As a perceptions index, it does not deal with actual crime stats, but rather how safe and secure citizens feel in their cities, with the safety index asking how safe they feel walking alone during the day and at night.

Globally, South Africa ranks third, up from fourth place in 2019, and below only Venezuela and Papua New Guinea.

South Africa is one of five African nations ranked in the top 20 most dangerous countries – ahead of Namibia, Angola, Nigeria and Libya – and ranks ahead of war torn nations including Afghanistan (fourth) and Syria (12th).

Overall, the highest scoring crime category for South Africa is corruption and bribery.

These are the global rankings:

# Country Crime Index Safety Index
1 Venezuela 84.49 15.51
2 Papua New Guinea 81.93 18.07
3 South Africa 77.49 22.51
4 Afghanistan 76.23 23.77
5 Honduras 76.11 23.89
6 Trinidad and Tobago 73.19 26.81
7 Brazil 68.88 31.12
8 Peru 68.15 31.85
9 El Salvador 67.96 32.04
10 Guyana 67.66 32.34

Most dangerous cities

The survey attracted around 2,300 South African respondents, with six cities meeting the response requirements to be included in the index as statistically relevant.

Pietermartizburg, the capital city of KwaZulu-Natal and also historically dubbed ‘sleepy hollow’, was found to be the most dangerous, with the highest crime index and lowest safety index.

Johannesburg dropped from second in 2019, to fourth, having been overtaken by both Pretoria and Durban.

However, Joburg remains the city where people feel least safe walking around alone.

Despite Cape Town having the highest murder rate in the country as a result of high gang related activity, it is still perceived to be the safest city on the list in almost every category.

This is how the cities compare:

This is how South Africa’s major cities rank in the index:

# City Crime Index Safety Index Worst crime
3 Pietermaritzburg 81.99 18.01 Corruption
4 Pretoria 81.63 18.37 Corruption
5 Durban 80.72 19.28 Corruption
6 Johannesburg 80.69 19.31 Corruption
11 Port Elizabeth 76.57 23.43 Corruption
17 Cape Town 73.05 26.95 Corruption

Read: The 10 worst areas for crime in every province in South Africa

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The most dangerous cities in South Africa to live in