Crime in South Africa

Expat Guide on Crime and Safety in Cape Town

The high rate of crime in South Africa has been of major concern for tourists coming to this year's Soccer Worldcup events as it is for expatriates moving to or living in Cape Town.

This is my update: Crime in Cape Town - September 2010.

Now that the Worldcup is over, broadcasts of happy and content tourists and expats speak of great organisation, friendly people and atmosphere and good personal safety in South Africa.

So you might ask: Where do all these negative reports about low personal safety in South Africa come from? What to make of the horrifying news you hear overseas on a frequent basis?

So let's look at the content of the crime statistics in more detail.

Most recent info regarding crime and carjackings in South Africa

South Africa has got one of the highest crime rate per 100,000 residents in the world regarding assault, rape and murder.

Cape Town is often referred to as one of the high-risk areas in the world with a murder rate on par with that of Rio de Janeiro according to the United Nations.

A more current account is found in Foreign Policy's "Listing of the Murder Capitals of the World": With a population of roughly 3.5 mio residents in Cape Town the murder ratio is around 62 murders for every 100,000 persons in 2008. This means there are around six murders happening per day in the Mother City.

These are shocking figures for sure! But you should know more about Crime in Cape Town and know also where most of the crime happens.

How safe is Cape Town?

Expat Living in Cape Town

The South African crime rate sounds and is intimidating, but I do not want to hide the fact that if you are prepared to investigate thoroughly where to move and how to get to work safely and where to go and where not and how to avoid becoming a victim of crime in South Africa.

Living in the Mother City is not more dangerous for expatriates normally as living in London or New York or visiting the major tourist attractions in Italy or Paris.

We are living in Cape Town for five years now and have never had any trouble or worries for our personal safety, although we had some bad experiences relating to criminal activities in the business environment, like burglary and white collar crime.

However you will have to stay clear of the more dangerous areas, but also our friends in various different suburbs all over the Cape peninsula live peacefully here for years without ever haven encountered any serious violence.

How else would Cape Town be named in Mercer's Report 2010 as one of the 100 most liveable cities regarding the quality of living in the world ranking 86th place?

Read more about the Expat Lifestyle in Cape Town here.

Surely you have heard about the xenophobic outbreaks in South Africa, which are broadcast all over the world and mainly include malicious actions agains African expatriates living and working in South Africa.

In my article on Crime in South Africa: Xenophobia I will give you some info on the current situation in Cape Town.

If you take some basic precautions you should not have to worry about your personal safety too much and you will feel and stay safe.

For further information on these specific precautions which you should take on not to become a victim of crime in South Africa, read my recommendations and safety tips for Cape Town.

Crime and violence affect everybody like everywhere else in the world and here in Cape Town mainly the poorer areas are affected by the horrifying figures.

There are certain areas especially the Cape Flats which are no-go areas for you if you are not accompanied by a local guide.

ExpatCapeTown Advice: If you are not sure the area you plan to visit or travel through is safe, get information on the area beforehand or contact the local police station.

Cape Town Crime Statistics 2010: Security Issues

For car-jacking, theft and robbery the middle class and more well-heeled population are especially targeted.

However the numbers have quite significantly decreased in the Western Cape since the last statistics in 2007/8.

• carjacking (-24.4%)

• robbery with aggravating circumstances (-19.7%)

• common assault (-10.8%)

• attempted murder (-11.8%)

The southern suburbs as well as Hout Bay had more recent spade of car-jacking, so many of the neighborhoods put on awareness campaigns and stepped up security with private watches and more visible police presence.

Many suburbs have got their own neighborhood watch teams on the road which patrol the streets day and night and so cut down on criminal offences drastically.

Robbery at business and residential premises are unfortunately escalating and increased for robberies at residential premises by 27.3%, so you should be aware that you must:

• choose one of the safer areas to live

• invest in a good alarm system

• learn to watch your environment carefully

Crime rate in Cape Town

Serious offences like street muggings (which however are involving increasingly handguns), smash and grab robberies and pick-pocketing are a common occurrence in many cities around the world.

For the last seven years there is decrease in serious crime rates evident according to the statistics which were released in September 2009.

For April 2008 - March 2009 the statistics show a trend of decreasing rates in most of the categories relating to serious crime in the Western Cape, but there is a tendency to more

• drug-related offenses (+5.6% Western Cape)

• commercial crime (+8.2% Western Cape)

• robberies at business premises (+41.1% nationwide)

The low down of the statistical data is however that only reported crime are taken into the data, the real figures are estimated to be higher, as for example rape victims often do not report this serious offence in fear of reprisals.

However it is also remarked in the statistics too that as there are up to six million undocumented immigrants living in South Africa, who are not taken into consideration in the South African crime statistics. So the figures would look differently and which the crime ratio per 100,000 inhabitants would show. For example the murder ratio would drop significantly from 37.3 to 29.8 per 100,000. Still doesn't look good, but surely you understand what I mean.

Recommended Reading: Crime in South Africa

• Read the most recent South African crime statistics 2009 in all its details. You will find here the most recent information by the SAPS (South African Police Service) about the situation of crime in South Africa and here you will also get more specific information on the development of Crime in South Africa relating especially to the crime rate in Cape Town.

• A really good information is the Report of the OSAC 2010 (Overseas Security Advisory Council) of the US Consulate in Johannesburg, which you will find

• Some very useful hints for avoiding becoming a victim of business related crime can be found on this flyer by the South African police Forces here. (PFD-Document)

• Excellent information on the vicious cycle of crime in South Africa and violence and some good news about building a safer South Africa can be read here.

• An international comparision with the most recent data which are however from 2006 can be found in this United Nations Survey where you can find comparisions between countries too.

So keep informed and stay safe!

More info about safe housing areas in Cape Town

Go to Why Cape Town is so attractive for living

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