Most Dangerous Cities in Africa 2020: South African Cities Dominate List

Six South African cities has dominated the ranking of Africa’s most dangerous cities, according to Numbeo’s 2020 crime index released recently and seen by listwand.

Africa's Most Dangerous Cities
South African police at the scene of a crime

South Africa was also ranked as the third most dangerous country in the world, with four local cities among the 10 most dangerous globally.

Among the 18 African cities ranked Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town all made the top 6 most dangerous cities in Africa.

Back in Nigeria Lagos was ranked the eight most dangerous country in Africa and the 38th most dangerous in the world.

The Numbeo Crime Index is a perceptions index based on survey responses, where users were asked to score the level of crime in their country and city from bad (-2) to good (+2), where 0 is average.

The survey of in excess of 77,000 people, deals with citizens’ levels of fear around violent crimes, property being stolen, hate crimes based on ethnicity or religion, and even corruption and bribery.

As a perceptions index, it does not deal with actual crime stats, but rather how safe and secure citizens feel in their cities, with the safety index asking how safe they feel walking alone during the day and at night.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Africa, 2020

1. Pietermaritzburg (South Africa)

Crime Index: 81.99

Pietermaritzburg is the crime capital of not just South Africa, but the whole of Africa.

The city has very high crime levels, with a crime rating of 81.99 out of a possible crime score of 100, according to Numbeo as of January 2020. Armed robbery, sexual assault, arson, drug dealing, house break-ins, carjackings, and car theft are some crimes that are rife in Pietermaritzburg. When xenophobic attacks flare up elsewhere in South Africa, they also tend to quickly spread to Pietermaritzburg as well.

2. Pretoria (South Africa)

Crime Index: 81.63

Pretoria has moved from being one of the most dangerous cities in the country last year to being ranked second on the list of the top 10 dangerous cities to live in Africa, according to Numbeo. As of January 2020, Numbeo rated the crime in Pretoria at 81.64 out of a possible crime score of 100, indicating it as being high.

3. Durban (South Africa)

Crime Index: 80.72

Nicknamed South Africa’s car theft capital Durban is the third most dangerous city in Africa. As of January 2020, Numbeo rated the crime in Durban at 80.72 out of a possible crime score of 100, indicating it as being high.

4. Johannesburg (South Africa)

Crime Index: 80.69

Johannesburg is South Africa’s largest city, with an estimated population of over 4 million people. Due to the many incidences of rape reported there, the city has been dubbed the “World’s Rape Capital”. Xenophobic attacks against foreigners also tend to flare up in the low income townships when there is unrest in South Africa.

Numbeo ranks crime levels in Johannesburg as being very high, achieving a 80.69 out of a possible crime score of 100 as of January 2020.

5. Port Elizabeth (South Africa)

Crime Index: 76.57

Nicknamed then”Windy City” for its windy coastal clime. Port Elizabeth has a rich cultural heritage. However, crime is very high there, and Numbeo, as of January 2020, rates the crime levels there at 76.57 out of a possible crime score of 100.

Muggings and street crimes are common in Port Elizabeth much like in the rest of South Africa. Xenophobic attacks against foreigners also tend to flare up in Port Elizabeth when there is unrest in South Africa.

Most Dangerous Cities in Africa

6. Cape Town (South Africa)

Crime Index: 73.05

There is an entrenched gang culture with thousands of young men belonging to street gangs with names like “Hard Living” and “Young Americans”.

In 2019 bloodshed in mainly poor black and colored mixed-race areas forced the South Africa govt to deploy a battalion of soldiers to help police quell a surge in violence in gang-infested parts of Cape Town.

7. Windhoek (Namibia)

Crime Index: 71.18

According to a US State Department report in 2015, the most common type of crime in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, is petty street crime, with most incidents occurring after dark, and criminals using knives and occasionally firearms. Organised crime across all of Southern Africa probably only developed in the 1980s.

8. Lagos (Nigeria)

Crime Index: 64.93

With an estimated population of 21 million, Lagos is Nigeria’s largest city and one of the largest cities in the world. Crime levels are also very high, with Numbeo giving the city a rating of 64.93 out of a possible crime score of 100.

9. Tripoli (Libya)

Crime Index: 64.03

There’s a very high risk of criminal kidnap for ransom in Tripoli and coastal towns to the West of Tripoli. There’s an elevated risk of kidnap for ransom and arbitrary detention by local militias throughout Libya.

10. Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)

Crime Index: 63.44

There is serious risk from crime in Dar es Salaam. Street crime is rampant in the country’s urban areas, including in Dar es Salaam. Most incidents are crimes of opportunity, targeting people carrying bags, backpacks, computer cases, cameras, purses, or items left in plain sight inside a vehicle.

11. Nairobi (Kenya)

Crime Index: 60.08

There is a high rate of crime in all regions of Kenya, particularly in Nairobi. There are regular reports of attacks against tourists by groups of armed assailants. However, the most common crime in Kenya is carjacking so the criminal can commit an armed robbery. Bag snatching and other petty crime is common around transport hubs.

Africa's Most Dangerous Cities 2020

12. Harare (Zimbabwe)

Crime Index: 58.54

There is a serious risk of crime in Harare. Overall crime increased 10-20% across most sectors in the past few years. Lingering effects from the 2016 introduction of Bond Notes drove increasing rates of crime across all sectors.

13. Casablanca (Morocco)

Crime Index: 54.66

The most common crimes are petty crimes, such as aggressive panhandling, pickpocketing, theft from unoccupied vehicles, robberies, purse snatching, and burglaries.

14. Algiers (Algeria)

Crime Index: 51.47

The most common crimes tend to be crimes of opportunity (e.g. pickpocketing, purse snatching, burglaries, and similar crimes) perpetrated by criminals who operate primarily in high-traffic and high-density areas. Criminals tend to focus on those who appear unfamiliar with their surroundings or have otherwise drawn attention to themselves.

15. Cairo (Egypt)

Crime Index: 49.57

The overall crime rate in Cairo is 40% higher than the national average. For every 100,000 people, there are 9.93 daily crimes that occur in Cairo . Cairo is safer than 24% of the cities in the United States. In Cairo you have a 1 in 28 chance of becoming a victim of any crime

Below are the most dangerous country

Top 10 Most Dangerous Countries in Africa 2020
Rank Country Crime Index
1 South Africa 77.49
2 Namibia 67.21
3 Angola 64.97
4 Nigeria 63.77
5 Libya 62.19
6 Kenya 61.66
7 Uganda 59.00
8 Tanzania 58.95
9 Somalia 58.50
10 Zimbabwe 57.47


Numbeo’s multi-factorial analyses take into account such considerations as people feelings on the level of crime therein, recent changes in crime levels, safety walking alone, fears of muggings or robberies, vehicular security, perceived threat of assault and/or battery, being annoyed, harassed, insulted, or solicited by locals, racial, ethnic, and religious intolerance, and the threat of property theft.

Uzonna Anele
Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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