The latest Cities@Risk Security Index from risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft shows that South African cities rank among the most dangerous and insecure in the world.
The index ranks 579 urban centres with a population exceeding one million people and their exposure to a range of threats. The data gives insight to companies with global operations and serves as a marker for what they can expect to encounter in these regions.
“While conflict and terrorism primarily threaten well known political violence flashpoints, crime and civil unrest are more widely distributed threats,” the group said. “Of these, crime presents the most immediate costs to business due to the need to protect staff and assets and maintain supply chain integrity.”
The group said that companies with global operations must continue to assess their exposure to longstanding security risks such as crime, even as novel threats like climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic move up the agenda.
Overall, the index identified Latin America as the world’s crime hotspot with 62 of the 100 riskiest cities coming from the region.
The Cities@Risk – Crime Index, which measures homicides, theft and property damage, shows the Americas account for 14 of the top 20 riskiest locations, while it is also home to 8 of the 12 cities receiving the highest possible risk score.
“The region’s role in the transnational trafficking of narcotics and the continued strength of sophisticated drug-trafficking organisations and gangs is the key factor underpinning the Latin America’s risk profile,” it said.
South African cities perform the worst in the crime index, the group said, with Cape Town, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Pretoria in the group of cities receiving the worst possible score and ranking joint first in the index.
“Outside of the Americas, companies operating in South Africa face the most serious crime risks,” it said.
South African cities also feature in other indices earmarked by Verisk Maplecroft, including a Security Index and Civil Unrest Index.
Cape Town is highlighted in this index as having medium risk associated with security concerns. This index tracks several pillars associated with security concerns, including crime, terrorism, civil unrest, etc.
Looking at civil unrest, specifically, South African cities are places in the high-risk segment. South Africa got a taste of how civil unrest could show itself in July 2021, when riots broke out in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng causing R50 billion in damage and claiming hundreds of lives.
Pretoria, home to the Union Buildings, plays host to many protests and marches in South Africa.
Verisk Maplecroft warned that civil unrest is likely to pick up in emerging markets – including South Africa – as the longer-lasting effects of the Russia-Ukraine war start kicking in.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is supercharging food and fuel prices and stoking a cost-of-living crisis across the globe. However, the worst effects are yet to kick in,” it said.
“As rising inflation and government cutbacks bite households harder, we see a rise in civil unrest as inevitable across key emerging economies that will have likely knock-on impacts for political stability and investor confidence.”
“Some countries risk falling into a vicious cycle, whereby worsening governance and social indicators make them ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investment pariahs, impeding the inflows needed to improve economic performance and address societal needs.”