World’s most violent cities: SA getting worse

 ·26 Jan 2015

The latest report from the Mexican Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice shows that Cape Town has retained its position as South Africa’s most violent city – and is getting worse.

The report lists the 50 most violent cities in the world by the number of murders per 100,000 people.

The rankings only consider cities with populations exceeding 300,000, where murder statistics are made available.

In 2014’s report (looking at violent crime in 2013), the Mother City was the only ranked city in South Africa to climb the list.

2015’s report continues the trend, with Cape Town now ranked as the 14th most violent city in the world, with 2,244 homicides in the year – a rate of 60.0 per 100,000 population.

Cape Town was ranked 20th in 2013, owing much of its violent standing to a few notorious hot-spots for gang related crime.

According to reported crime figures, Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Mfuleni, Kraaifontein, Khayelitsha, Harare, Delft and Gugulethu all recorded over 100 murders in 2014, totaling 1,300 deaths, alone.

Worryingly, South Africa’s other ranked cities, Nelson Mandela Bay and Durban, also climbed the ranking, 35th (2013: 41st) and 38th (2013: 48th), respectively.

Nelson Mandela Bay recorded 402 homicides, giving it a rate of 34.9 per 100,000 people in 2014.

Durban recorded 1,442 homicides, a rate of 34.7 per 100,000 people.

Johannesburg, which often bears the title of the unsafest city in South Africa, was last ranked by the group in 2011 in 50th position.

The city has not been ranked in the top 50 since then, as its homicide rate has not been higher than 25.5.

Joburg’s most violent district is Roodepoort, which recorded ‘only’ 94 homicides in 2014.

Most violent cities in South Africa (murder rate)

City 2013 2014
Cape Town 51.0 60.0
Nelson Mandela Bay 35.7 34.9
Durban 32.4 34.7

Most violent cities in South Africa (ranking)

City 2011 2012 2013 2014
Cape Town 34th 27th 20th 14th
Nelson Mandela Bay 41st 38th 41st 35th
Durban 49th 46th 48th 38th
Johannesburg 50th

Most violent cities in the world

For the fourth consecutive year, San Pedro Sula, in Honduras, tops the most violent city list with a rate of 171.20 homicides per 100,000 citizens overall.

Within the 50 ranked cities, there are:

  • 19 in Brazil
  • 10 in Mexico
  • 5 in Colombia
  • 4 in Venezuela
  • 4 in The United States
  • 3 in South Africa
  • 2 in Honduras
  • 1 in El Salvador, Guatemala and Jamaica

The overwhelming majority of the 50 most violent cities in the world are located in the American continent with 47 cities and particularly in Latin America, with 43 cities.

The most significant homicide rate increase took place in the North American city of St. Louis, which saw homicide rates increase by 46% (from 102 murders in 2013 to 120 in 2014).

Most violent cities in the world

# City Country Homicide Population Rate
1 San Pedro Sula Honduras 1,317 769,025 171.2
2 Caracas Venezuela 3,797 3,273,863 116.0
3 Acapulco Mexico 883 847,735 104.2
4 Joao Pessoa Brazil 620 780,738 79.4
5 Distrito Central Honduras 928 1,195,456 77.7
6 Maceio Brazil 1,086 1,527,920 72.9
7 Valencia Venezuela 2,541 3,818,380 71.1
8 Fortaleza Brazil 1,530 2,344,734 66.6
9 Cali Colombia 908 1,403,111 65.3
10 Sao Luis Brazil 931 1,462,045 64.7

More on crime and violence

The most violent countries in the world

South Africa’s most violent city

Shocking crime levels in Gauteng

Terrorism on the rise in South Africa

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