Cape Town now ranks as the 8th most violent city in the world

Cape Town now ranks as the eighth most violent city in the world, according to the latest global ranking by the Mexican Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice.

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.

In the 2019/20 ranking, four South African cities feature in the top 50, marking a return for Johannesburg to the list for the first time since 2015.

As with previous years, the ranking is dominated by South American cities, with South Africa, Jamaica and US being the only main regional differences.

The top five cities are Mexican cities, led by Tijuana, which recorded a murder rate of 134.2 people per 100,000 population in 2019. The only other city to see a murder rate in the triple digits is the Mexican city of Juarez.

Cape Town carried the dishonour of featuring in the top 10 in 2015, where it ranked as the 9th most violent city in the world. However, it then showed a gradual improvement over the years, before settling at 15th position in 2017.

In 2018/19 Cape Town retained its 15th position, but its murder rate spiked to a new high at 66.4 murders per 100,000 population.

In the 2019/20 ranking, this has pushed to a new record high of 68.3 murders per 100,000 population, and a ranking of 8th overall.

Notably, in pure numbers, Cape Town recorded the most deaths out of all the countries featured in the top 50, recording 3,065 murders among its population of 4.5 million. For context, the most violent city, Tijuana, recorded 2,367 murders, among a much smaller population of 1.8 million.

Nelson Mandela Bay, ranks as the second most violent city in the country, jumping from 45th in 2018/19, to 24th position in 2019/20. The city recorded 553 murders in a population of 1.2 million, giving it a murder rate of 45.8 per 100,000 people.

Durban, which ranked 47th overall last year, is now ranked 35th. The city recorded 1,577 murders among a population of 3.9 million, giving it a murder rate of 40.5 per 100,000.

Joburg, which has not been featured in the top 50 for the last three years, has returned to the list at 41st position. The city recorded 2,078 murders among a population of 5.7 million, giving it a murder rate of 36.2 per 100,000 people.

Most violent cities in South Africa (murder rate)

City 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Cape Town 51.0 60.0 65.5 60.8 62.3 66.4 68.3
Nelson Mandela Bay 35.7 34.9 35.8 39.2 37.5 39.2 45.8
Durban 32.4 34.7 35.9 34.4 38.1 38.5 40.5
Johannesburg 33.3 36.2

Most violent cities in South Africa (ranking)

City 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Cape Town 20th 14th 9th 13th 15th 15th 8th
Nelson Mandela Bay 41st 35th 42nd 43rd 46th 45th 24th
Durban 48th 38th 41st 50th 44th 47th 35th
Johannesburg 47th 41st

Murder in South Africa

In September 2019, The South African Police Service (SAPS) published crime statistics showing another jump in the number of murders recorded in the country.

For the period April 2018 to March 2019, the SAPS recorded 21,022 murders in the country, up 3.4% from the year before.

This averages out to 57.6 murders each day, at a rate of 35.8 murders per 100,000 people.

This continues the decades-long trend of increasing violent crime in South Africa, where the number of murders has continued to climb since 2010.


Read: Big jump in murders in South Africa since the start of level 3 lockdown

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Cape Town now ranks as the 8th most violent city in the world