Warnings & Dangers
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
Johannesburg is ranked 128th out of 162 of most dangerous cities. However, the safety level depends on the district. So, if you exercise a high degree of caution and avoid the troubled areas, your vacation in Johannesburg might only be spoiled by petty theft on a Central station or Saturday market. However, at dark, crime rates are significantly higher, thus we advise refraining from visiting any areas at night or prefer taxi option for traveling.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Pickpocketing at shopping centers is common. It is worth to be vigilant of your surroundings, do not leave your valuable unattended. The city center might be overcrowded and numerous pickpockets operate in this area.
MUGGING RISK : HIGH
Muggings and robbery are often and involving weapons. The risks of being mugged in the public transport are low, however, there is worth to stay alert. Some criminals pose as ‘Tourist Police’ to extort and rob tourists, including by stopping tourist buses to check proof of identity and search luggage. There have been reported situations when tourists have been assaulted and robbed after their food or drinks were spiked. Try to avoid being in clubs or bars alone at night, and do not leave your food or beverages unattended.
SCAMS RISK : HIGH
Muggings and robbery are often and involving weapons. The risks of being mugged in the public transport are low, however, there is worth to stay alert. Some criminals pretend to be ‘Tourist Police’ to extort and rob tourists, including by stopping tourist buses to check proof of identity and search luggage. There have been reported situations when tourists have been assaulted and robbed after their food or drinks were spiked. Try to avoid being in clubs or bars alone at night, and do not leave your food or beverages unattended.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
There are known situations when criminals place debris on roads in order to stop the vehicle. We advise you do not stop and get out of the car to clear the barrier. The best solution is to wait for another car or try to bypass using the roadside. Luggage theft does occur at Johannesburg airport. SafeAround advises you do not place any valuables in your luggage. Waiting for a taxi, be aware of strangers that might offer their help with your suitcases. Be vigilant, and do not leave your belongings unattended. Due to safety and concerns, the use of minibus taxis is not recommended. These vehicles are in poor condition, drivers drive erratically. The best solution for security reasons is taking a taxi wherever you go, luckily it’s significantly cheaper, than in any European capital.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Tsunamis in the Indian Ocean might be a threat. You can find more info on Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There is a moderate risk of terrorism in South Africa. However, the terrorism is a worldwide threat.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
South Africa 15 years ago was a place where a woman was raped every 30 seconds. However, nowadays the situation significantly improved, the risks for woman travelers are still very high. Do not venture alone in shady neighborhoods of large cities, or isolated villages, be aware of your surroundings and try don’t travel on your own if possible remain in groups.
WHAT TO DO?
Central Business district
This is the most visited part of the city by the tourists. It has had a poor reputation for years which is no longer deserved. Numerous shops, including outlets, art galleries and business centers are absolutely safe during day and night. Minor crimes do occur on a regular basis, however, following basic precautions and constant vigilance will let you spend a trouble-free time in this area.
Newtown and the Market Theatre areaCity’s cultural heart. Rich with plenty vibrant venues the area will guarantee you a fun and enjoyable stay. The main disturbance is pickpockets, in constant search of distracted newcomers. Pay attention to your belongings and be aware of your surroundings.
BraamfonteinKnown as the university area, and home to the biggest Saturday’s market in the city, where plenty of authentic local things can be found. However, be cautious as this part is not generally nice or safe. Avoid being there at night hours alone and be aware of pickpockets even during the day. Definitely not the place to stay, although accommodation is seductively inexpensive.
FordsburgFormer Indian district still has some Indian and Pakistani shops, markets and restaurants. Generally, the population of this area is Muslim, thus there is no alcohol served in the local places. Locals are friendly, the area is nice and without hidden dangers.
HillbrowOne of the worst Johannesburg suburbs. Undoubtedly it is not a nice place to take a stroll. Nowadays this neighborhood is a den for prostitution, drug deals and broken glass. No-go area.
Northern SuburbsSuch suburbs like: “Greenside”, “Atholl”, “Sandown”, “Fourways” and others are the nicest places to live in. This is where middle and upper-class Johannesburg families live. Johannesburg Planetarium, South African National Museum, Museum of Transport are among the most visited attractions there.
Alexandra TownshipAn interesting destination for having a guided tour in a van hearing the stories of the struggles and crimes, which had been earned between 1980-1990s, when the area was really like more a war zone than a living district. Nowadays it is still vulnerable, especially London road should be avoided while your drive to and from Sandton.
Other areas of concern or to be avoided in Johannesburg:
- HIV levels are very high, so take the necessary precautions.
- It is prudent to plan night-time journeys in advance and to use a reputable taxi, avoid unlit remote areas.
- If you are lost, don’t make it too obvious that you are, ask directions only in shops.
- Joubert Park, Hillbrow, and Berea are considered as no-go zones