X users question stats as three South African cities listed as world’s most unsafe

Jacaranda trees line a road in Pretoria, which has made it onto a list of the world’s top 5 unsafe cities. Picture: Unsplash

Jacaranda trees line a road in Pretoria, which has made it onto a list of the world’s top 5 unsafe cities. Picture: Unsplash

Published May 23, 2024


According to online database Numbeo’s latest Crime Index, two South African cities head the list of the world’s “Top 5 Least Safe Cities”, while a third was placed fourth.

The index, which has also been shared by the widely-consulted website VisaGuide.World, places the South African cities of Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria and Johannesburg first, second and fourth, respectively, among the top five least-safe cities in the world.

Numbeo list of Top 5 Least Safest Cities in the World. Picture: VisaGuide.com/Instagram

Other cities in the top five were Caracas in Venezuela and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.

The list has also been shared on social media platforms, X and Instagram, leaving some social media users questioning the authenticity of the data.

According to Numbeo, its crime index data is collected from surveys completed by visitors to its website, while questions in these surveys are designed to be similar to many scientific and government surveys.

It says it has implemented filtering measures to identify and exclude potential spam from its calculations, and their algorithms can identify users who exhibit spam-like behaviour, with such inputs not considered in their calculations.

“This helps maintain the integrity of the data and provide reliable results. Crime Index is an estimation of the overall level of crime in a given city or country.

“We consider crime levels lower than 20 as very low, crime levels; between 20 and 40 as low; crime levels between 40 and 60 as moderate; crime levels between 60 and 80 as high; and crime levels higher than 80 as very high,” they state on the website.

The data collection site also highlighted that it is important to note that the Crime Index provided by it is based on user-contributed data and perceptions, which may differ from official government statistics.

“The index serves as a comparative tool to assess the relative safety of different cities or countries, helping individuals make informed decisions and understand the crime landscape in specific locations,” said Numbeo.

— Louis Speirs (@louisspeirs) May 22, 2024

Social media users on X were divided on the stats and shared their views.

@louisspeirs said: “Haiti’s capital not even mentioned in the top 5. 😳.”

— Paultwin Okoye (@PaultwinOkoye) May 22, 2024

@PaultwinOkoye said: “Yes, because South Africa over-report their crime stats, some countries don't even have stats at all.”

@VaudeClaude commented: “Our cities are unsafe no doubt, but I wonder how these stats are put together, what metrics are used to define 'unsafe', accuracy etc.

“Last month I saw stats that said Port Elizabeth is our most dangerous city (top 10 most dangerous in the world, with the other being Mexican.”

@matthewpantland commented: “Would love to see the source data. Is it safety or feeling of safety? Or perception of safety? There was a study not so long ago that put Joburg as safer than Cape Town when down to hard data.”