South Africa is often regarded as one of the most dangerous places to live and even though crime rates have largely decreased over the last period, there are still areas that are largely considered “crime hotspots”.
A crime hotspot is an area or region that has a high crime intensity which simply means more crimes take place there than in other areas. Of the different types of crime, home burglaries are statistically the most feared (and the most often occurring) crime in South Africa, with car theft trailing closely behind. According to Stats SA there were around 1.3 million incidences of housebreaking and 83 000 of motor vehicle theft during the 2018/2019 period. Victims of these crimes are largely male-headed households and households in metros. Indian/Asian houses are the most targeted, while white men are more likely to be victims of vehicle theft.
Crime stats in South Africa have shown that the majority of crimes occur over the weekend, from Friday to Monday. Most hijackings happen on Fridays from 11h00 to 13h00 and then again after dark between 20h00 and 23h00. Unfortunately, hostage taking is on the increase, with 29% of cases resulting in a hostage being taken. Crimes in which only a person’s vehicle is taken tends to happen on Saturdays between 12h00 and 14h00. House robberies and house burglaries occur most frequently during the months of April, July, August and December, from Thursday to Saturday.
Crime Hotspots in South Africa
Popular opinion in South Africa will have you believe that Johannesburg (jokingly named “Gangsters’ Paradise”, due to the GP suffix on cars’ number plates) is the most crime-ridden city in South Africa. Recent statistics, however, show that Cape Town Central experiences the most crime in South Africa, surpassing Johannesburg Central by 1500 crimes. While this sounds worrying, both these areas have seen a combined 11% decrease in crime, in general.
The following areas in South Africa are considered crime hotspots:
Western Cape – Cape Town Central, Mitchells Plain, Kraaifontein, Nyanga
Gauteng – Johannesburg Central, Honeydew, Pretoria Central, Hillbrow
KwaZulu Natal – Durban Central, Pinetown, Phoenix, Umlazi
Eastern Cape – East London, Mount Road, Humewood, Mthatha
Limpopo – Seshego, Polokwane, Mankweng, Thohoyandou
Mpumalanga – Witbank, Nelspruit, Middelburg (MP), Vosman
North West – Rustenburg, Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp, Brits
Free State – Park Road, Welkom, Thabong, Bethlehem
Northern Cape – Kimberley, Galeshewe, Upington, Roodepan
Though house burglaries and house robberies are similar (trespassing and theft) they are differentiated by the presence (or absence) of a victim. If the owners are home and under threat it is considered a robbery and if the house is empty it is a burglary and there is no threat to any person. Protecting oneself from a home invasion isn’t as impossible as it sounds. House burglary stats show that criminals more often than not opt for the ‘easier’ target. They aim to get in and out of the building as quickly as possible to avoid detection and capture. As such, the ways in which you can keep your home and your family safe is to simply be vigilant. Be aware of habitual actions such as:
- Leaving a window in the house e.g. the bathroom open at all times
- Storing keys in full view of windows and doors
- Keeping valuables and appliances in such a way that they are visible from the street
- Arriving at or leaving the house at the same times every day
- Not closing curtains (especially at night) and not having sheer net curtains
- Leaving expensive kids’ toys in the yard (giving thieves a good idea of what you have inside the house)
There are several ways in which you can make yourself a ‘less appealing’ to would-be thieves such as:
- Keeping your driveways and pavements clear of rubble and debris – criminals often target houses using common trash items like tins or candy wrappers
- Installing security gates and keeping them locked at all times
- Closing all windows when leaving the house
- Getting to know your neighbours and being aware of their comings and goings
- Breaking down and binning all boxes when purchasing a new TV or similar (the box acts as advertisement that something new has been bought)
Hijacking and vehicle theft is something all drivers fear at some point in their lives. You could walk out of a shopping center to find your car has been stolen or you could be confronted in your driveway and robbed of your vehicle at gunpoint. Either way, no driver wants to have their means of transport taken away from them. Because of this, many people practice safe driving habits to keep themselves and their vehicles safe, especially when traveling in high crime areas in South Africa. There are ways in which you can make yourself safer like:
- Installing a tracker in your vehicle
- Keeping valuables out of sight (preferably in the boot of the car)
- Keeping windows closed at all times, but especially at stopping points
- Ensuring cellphones/handbags are not easily visible from outside the car
- Being vigilant at a stop street or traffic light
- When stopping at a stop sign or traffic light, always ensuring there is at least 1 car length between you and the car in front of you, in case you need to move away from the scene
- Checking for foreign objects in your driveway when arriving or leaving and not exiting the car if anything isn’t as it should be
- Ensuring the gate to your yard is fully closed before exiting the vehicle when arriving, or before driving away when leaving
While these methods are not a guaranteed safeguard against crime, being generally more aware of your surroundings and your habits can greatly decrease the likelihood of you or your loved ones becoming a statistic. Crime is a daily reality in our modern world and if you live or travel around crime and hijacking hotspots in South Africa, you need to be extra vigilant – they aren’t called crime hotspots for nothing!
See our Interactive Crime Map of South Africa and stay up to date with what’s happening in your area. Stay vigilant!