South Africa
and Johannesburg

The Southernmost country of the African continent, South Africa is the most visited country in Africa after Morocco. It is a very diverse country, with a population of approximately 53 millions people speaking over 11 different languages. The country’s generous humid oceanic climate is favored by tourists and wine enthusiasts. The country is one of the best for wildlife sightings (the Kruger National Park is among the most famous in the World), astonishing landscapes and cultural heritage.

South Africa is known to be dangerous and has a very high crime rate (nearly 49 murders per day countrywide in 2015). While is it true, it shouldn’t discourage tourists from visiting the country, and nothing should happen to you if you use common sense and follow safety advice.

City Safe has compiled information from numerous sources make sure you have a safe trip in South Africa and in Johannesburg, and be aware of all potential dangers.

South Africa is the 112th safest country in the world (which makes it the 50th most dangerous country in the world), based on the safest and most dangerous countries ranking.

44%

South Africa Safety Index: Some Risk

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Is South Africa A Safe or Dangerous Country?

Because of a very high inequality index, South Africa is a country with a high crime rate, some parts of the cities are to be absolutely avoided by travelers, and tourists are prime targets for petty theft. South Africa is ranked 112th on the ranking of world’s safest countries.

Still, most tourists travel unharmed, so don’t let the crime spoil your vacation, but on the other hand don’t let negligence ruin your trip. Stay alert and be aware. It is advised to travel with tour guides when going to remote locations or visiting the cities (the risks are higher in the cities : jump to the part on Johannesburg for more details.)

The main threats for tourists are muggingstheft, scams and carjacking.

If you fly to South Africa, be careful : O.R. Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg) is known for petty theft: there have been many reports of items stolen from passenger luggage, and the pilferage rate is twice as high as in other airports. Keep your valuables in hand luggage, and consider wrapping your luggage with cling-wrap (or any other luggage security apparatus) to deter potential thieves.

To prevent snatch-and-grab attacks, do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, consider using a money pouch or belt, hide your camera, leave your passport in the safe of your hotel.

It is unadvised to take public transport if you are travelling alone in large cities – prefer taking taxis or renting your own car.

If you rent a car, be very careful : South Africa has one of the highest rates of traffic accidents in the world. Beware of wild animals crossing the road , if you are in a reserve keep your distance with elephants and other large animals.

When you stop at a traffic light at night, always leave enough room between your car and the car in front of you : it is a common carjacking manoeuvre to block your car in order to rob you; if you leave enough space you could get around the other car. At least 30 cars are carjacked every day in South Africa.

Be alert around ATMs, as there have been many reports of scams involving stealing your cash, your card and memorizing your PIN. Always use ATMs in populous areas, refuse any “help” from strangers, if the withdrawal fails retrieve your card and try another ATM. Park in well lit areas and never leave valuables in your car.

As unlikely as it is, if you ever get mugged or carjacked, DO NOT RESIST. Your assailants could think that you are armed, and could shoot you.

The nationwide emergency number is the 112. For National Tourism safety advice, call +27 (0)83 123-2345.

For more details, see city specific advice or take a look at our travel articles.

The following map from the Australian Foreign Ministry doesn’t give much details, head to http://www.crimestatssa.com/ for a much more detailed view.

south_africa

Is Johannesburg a Safe or Dangerous city?

Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa, with a population of c. 8m people in is metropolitan area. The city is the country’s economic hub, and while it generates approx. 10% of the Sub-Saharan countries GDP, the city’s wealth is very unequally distributed : some parts of the city have first-world standards while others are extremely poor neighborhoods.

It is one of the best places to learn about the Apartheid, from the historic Soweto neighborhood, the Apartheid Museum or the Freedom Park in Pretoria.

The city has a problem with crime, although criminals don’t specifically target tourists. Crime levels vary a lot whether it is the day or the night (the Central Business District is crowded and safe during the day, and becomes empty and dangerous at night), lone travellers and solo women should be particularly careful.

Read the advice above for the O.R. Tambo Airport safety guide, and how to react if you’re victim of assault.

To prevent carjacking, stay alert at all times, keep your choice of rental cars modest, and avoid driving in urban areas at night; if you have to do so, keep windows wound up and doors locked. If you do get carjacked, don’t resist; just hand over the keys immediately. The carjackers are almost always armed, and people have been killed for their cars (if you rent a car make sure it is insured against theft).

Here’s a map of the most dangerous areas in the city:

36%

Johannesburg
Safety Index: 

Dangerous

See all country safety rankings

Warnings & Dangers for South Africa

High Priority-96OVERALL RISK: HIGH

South Africa is a dangerous country with a high crime rate – although travelers are very rarely targeted. It is ranked 112th out of 162 on the ranking of the safest and most dangerous countries.

Pickpocket-96PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM

There is a medium pickpocket-related risk in South Africa, in public transport and crowds. A few simple precautions will minimize your chances of being pickpocketed.

Bank Robbery-96MUGGING & KIDNAPPING RISK: HIGH

South Africa is a dangerous country regarding risks of mugging and kidnapping, urban areas are better avoided late at night, and it is recommended to travel in private cars. They were over 4,000 kidnapping cases in 2014.

Fraud-96SCAMS RISK: HIGH

There are a lot of scammers and con-artists trying to take advantage of tourists, particularly in large cities and around major landmarks in South Africa. Beware of weird people around ATMs, groups of teenagers acting strangely or trying to distract you; and people offering help with your luggage.

Subway-96TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: MEDIUM

Public transport should be avoided for solo travelers at night, although the Gautrain in Johannesburg is mostly safe. There is a high risk of traffic accidents, as well as carjacking.

Earthquakes-96NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW

There can be some occasional natural hazards in South Africa. Beware of wild animals.

Terrorism-96TERRORISM RISK: LOW

South Africa is a very safe country in respect to terrorist threats.

Female-96WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM

There has been several reports of attacks and shaming of women travelers. Do not venture alone in shady neighborhoods of large cities, or isolated villages.

Got more questions? Ask them in the Q&A forum!

Here are four of the best Travel Guides for South Africa

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