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Am I Safe to Travel to Johannesburg, South Africa in 2024?

Jozi, known for its vibrant culture and history, offers dynamic urban life. Yet, safety concerns due to its complex reputation are valid for visitors and potential residents.

Tobi Miles
March 31, 2024
Am I Safe to Travel to Johannesburg, South Africa in 2024?

Safety in Johannesburg is a nuanced topic. While it's true that the city faces challenges with crime, it's also home to friendly locals and neighborhoods that are as safe as any other global city. Understanding the city's safety requires a deeper dive into which areas to avoid, which to embrace, and practical tips to navigate Jozi confidently.

Understanding Safety in Johannesburg

When considering safety in Johannesburg, it's crucial to rely on real data and not just hearsay or outdated stereotypes. The city, like any major urban center worldwide, has areas of concern but also many safe places, reflecting its complex urban tapestry.

Crime Rates and Trends

A critical look at the crime statistics reveals both challenges and improvements in Johannesburg's safety landscape. Here's a quick overview:


Overall Crime Index

Safety Index







These numbers show a gradual improvement in safety, indicating efforts towards reducing crime are bearing fruit. Yet, the overall crime index remains high, signaling the need for vigilance.

Navigating Safely

Your experience in Johannesburg can be significantly safer with a few practical steps:

  • Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with local news and advisories.
  • Neighborhood Awareness: Familiarize yourself with the areas you plan to visit. The city's northern suburbs are generally safer, while caution is advised in certain downtown areas.
  • Secure Transportation: Opt for reputable taxi services or ride-sharing apps.

Engaging with the Locals

Johannesburg's residents are known for their warmth and hospitality. Engaging with the locals can offer you insights into safely exploring the vibrant culture and hidden gems of the city. They're likely to advise you on places to enjoy and those to avoid, giving you a nuanced understanding of navigating the city.

Through a blend of vigilance, local wisdom, and embracing the dynamic urban life, your journey in Johannesburg can be a rewarding experience, revealing the city's true character beyond its safety statistics.

Crime Statistics in Johannesburg

When questioning the safety of Johannesburg, it's essential to look at the hard numbers. Crime statistics offer a tangible insight into what's happening on the ground, and understanding these figures will help you navigate the city with more confidence.

Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city, has been working hard to improve its safety. While it's true that the city has faced challenges with crime, recent stats show a promising downward trend in certain types of criminal activities. Below is a summary of the most recent crime data available:

Crime Type

Previous Year

Current Year

Percentage Change













Vehicle Theft




It's crucial to note that while these numbers seem high, they're part of a citywide effort to decrease crime rates, showing a promising trend toward a safer Johannesburg.

The reduction in these crime rates can be attributed to improved policing strategies, the implementation of CCTV cameras in high-risk areas, and increased community policing efforts. However, it's important to remember that crime does still exist, and being vigilant is key.

Understanding the lay of the land is essential for any visitor. Certain neighborhoods have higher crime rates than others, and it's advisable to stay informed about which areas to avoid. The CBD and some parts of Soweto, for instance, tend to have higher incidents of street crime, while suburbs like Sandton and Melrose are considered safer.

Leveraging technology can also enhance your safety. Apps and platforms offering real-time crime data and safety tips can be incredibly useful. They allow you to make informed decisions about where to go and what precautions to take.

Remember, staying informed is your best defense. By keeping abreast of the latest crime statistics and trends, you can navigate Johannesburg much more safely, making the most of what this vibrant city has to offer.

Safe Neighborhoods in Johannesburg

When considering a visit or move to Johannesburg, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with the neighborhoods known for their safety and lower crime rates. Sandton, often referred to as "Africa's richest square mile," tops the list. It's not just the affluent lifestyle and skyscrapers that define Sandton but also its significantly lower crime rates compared to other areas in Johannesburg. Here, you'll find a vast array of upscale shops, world-class restaurants, and secure residential areas, making it a preferred choice for both locals and expatriates.

Following closely in terms of safety is Rosebank, a cosmopolitan commercial and residential suburb. Renowned for its shopping malls, art galleries, and vibrant nightlife, Rosebank offers a blend of safety and leisure, thanks to its effective private security measures and active community policing forums. The neighborhood is also well-connected via the Gautrain and public transport, adding to its appeal for those seeking convenience and security.

Another suburb that stands out for its safety is Melville. Known for its bohemian style, Melville is home to a diverse community and is popular among students, young professionals, and artists. Despite its bustling nightlife, crime rates here are noticeably lower, due in part to the proactive efforts of local businesses and residents to maintain safety and security.

To give you a clearer view, here’s how these neighborhoods compare in terms of safety-related incidents per capita:


Safety Incidents per Capita







It's important to note that safety doesn't only come down to the absence of crime. It's also about how communities engage to create secure environments. These neighborhoods excel not just because of police presence but because of community involvement and the implementation of private security measures. Staying vigilant and informed is still key, but choosing areas like Sandton, Rosebank, and Melville can significantly enhance your sense of security in Johannesburg. Whether you're strolling through the serene streets of Sandton, exploring Rosebank's art scene, or enjoying the eclectic vibe of Melville, knowing you're in one of Johannesburg's safer neighborhoods adds an extra layer of comfort to your experience.

Areas to Avoid in Johannesburg

When you're exploring Johannesburg, it's crucial to stay informed about which areas might be best to avoid for safety reasons. Despite the city's dynamic culture and attractions, some regions are known for higher crime rates. Being aware can significantly enhance your visit, ensuring a safer experience in this South African metropolis.

  • Hillbrow: Historically, Hillbrow has been notorious for its high levels of crime, including theft, muggings, and drug-related offenses. Often crowded, it poses challenges even during the day.
  • Berea: Similar to Hillbrow, Berea is another area with a considerable crime rate. Lack of effective policing and urban decay have contributed to its reputation.
  • Joubert Park: While it's home to the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Joubert Park is often cited for petty crimes, making visitors vulnerable, especially after dark.

Crime Statistics Overview:


Type of Crime



Petty Theft

Highly Frequent


Muggings, Drug Offenses

Very Frequent

Joubert Park

Petty Theft, Assault

Frequently Reported

In understanding these dynamics, you're better positioned to navigate your way around Johannesburg wisely. Stick to well-lit, populated areas, especially at night, and consider using reputable ride-hailing services instead of walking or using public transport after dark.

For those who love exploring, it doesn't mean these areas are entirely off-limits. Daytime visits, preferably in groups and with a tour guide familiar with Johannesburg, can reduce risks significantly. Always trust your instincts and avoid wearing flashy jewelry or displaying expensive gadgets in public spaces.

Tips for Staying Safe in Johannesburg

Exploring Johannesburg safely is entirely possible with the right precautions. Crime rates vary significantly across different areas, so staying informed and vigilant is key. Here's how you can safeguard yourself while enjoying what the city has to offer.

Keep Valuables Out of Sight

Petty theft, specifically pickpocketing, is common in busy areas. Always keep your valuables secure and out of sight. Opt for a money belt or a neck pouch instead of a back pocket or an easily accessible bag.

Choose Accommodation Wisely

Selecting a safe neighborhood for your stay is crucial. Areas like Sandton, Rosebank, and Melville are known for their safety and amenities. Check reviews and recommendations before booking your accommodation.

Use Reputable Transport

Reputable ride-hailing services or prearranged transportation from your hotel are advisable, especially at night. Public transportation can be unpredictable, and it's best avoided after dark.

Stay in Groups

There’s safety in numbers. Whenever possible, explore Johannesburg in groups, especially in lesser-known areas. Besides, you’ll have more fun discovering the city with friends or fellow travelers.

Be Street Smart

Awareness is your best defense. Be observant of your surroundings, and trust your instincts. If a situation or place feels unsafe, leave immediately.





Medical Help


National Crisis Line


Having these numbers saved on your phone ensures you’re prepared for any emergency. Johannesburg is a vibrant city with much to offer, and by following these safety tips, your visit can be both exciting and secure.


Johannesburg's safety can be significantly enhanced by your choices and awareness. By choosing to stay in neighborhoods like Sandton, Rosebank, and Melville, you're already taking a step towards a safer visit. Remember, avoiding high-risk areas, particularly after dark, is key. Utilizing reputable ride-hailing services and opting for group tours during the day can further mitigate risks. Always be mindful of your surroundings, keep your valuables discreet, and stay informed. Johannesburg has much to offer, and with the right precautions, your experience can be both enriching and safe. Stay smart, stay safe, and enjoy the vibrant heart of South Africa.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some safe neighborhoods to stay in Johannesburg?

Some of Johannesburg's safest neighborhoods include Sandton, Rosebank, and Melville. These areas are known for their lower crime rates and are popular choices for both visitors and locals.

Which areas should I avoid in Johannesburg due to high crime rates?

Areas in Johannesburg with higher crime rates that you should avoid include Hillbrow, Berea, and Joubert Park. These regions are known for theft, muggings, and drug-related offenses.

How can I enhance my safety while exploring Johannesburg?

Enhance your safety in Johannesburg by sticking to well-lit, populated areas, using reputable ride-hailing services at night, and preferring daytime tours in groups with a knowledgeable guide. Always be aware of your surroundings and keep valuables out of sight.

Are there any safety tips for visitors in Johannesburg?

Yes, to stay safe in Johannesburg, choose accommodations in safe neighborhoods, use reputable transport services, travel in groups whenever possible, and be street smart. Also, have emergency numbers saved on your phone for quick access in case of any issues.

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
March 31, 2024
A nomadic wordsmith savoring the world's flavors and penning stories that turn every journey into an epic.
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