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I’ve been reading about the living conditions in Johannesburg as it is noted as one the most dangerous cities in the world. I’ve heard it the crime rate is going down but I cant find any information and new statistics as most searches on the internet, turn up its peak crime era, which looked to be between 1998 and 2001.

What I find interesting about this city is that the downtown area has been abandoned by the wealth that used to exist there and that the wealthy population and businesses have moved to the northern suburbs, notably a suburb called “Sandton”, which looks to becoming Johannesburg’s new CBD. An interesting neighbourhood near the CBD is Hillbrow, which is noted as the most dangerous community in South Africa, and one of the most dangerous communities in the world. (The CBD and the neighbourhood of Berea [east of Hillbrow], have crime rates almost equivalent to Hillbrow). From the air Hillbrow looks like a typical innercity neighbourhood, high rise, apartments (1960s era), which used to be home to the middle class and was the entertainment district. However it became a “grey zone” in the 1970s, as the city went against the apartheid laws and allowed to blacks live there. Its deterioration began in the 1980s as the whites began to move out and is now almost 100% black with a large unemployment/ drug/ prostitution/ illegal alien problem. It has become well known in Johanessburg as the no-go area, and has become infamous for its new years parties, where it has become a tradition for people in the apartment buildings to throw items, noted in articles, fridges, stoves, beds, from their balconies on to the people below. It got to the point a few years ago, where police blocked off all streets into Hillbrow, and could only go into the area in armored vans. Read an article below about Hillbrow in the picture section.

I got all of these images off the internet, one from a racist site that I share no views with, but was the only site I found certain images from. And because of its views I don’t want to display the site, as I don’t want to promote it.

Below is an article I found about the crime rate in South Africa.

“In South Africa: a woman is raped every 28 seconds; doctors are leaving in droves; beggars live in the marble foyers of derelict banks; farmers are butchered in their fields; the parks and beaches have become killing fields; car-jackings are a daily occurrence; the murder rate is running at 27,000 a year. South Africa today has become a nation on the edge of self-destruction.

Law and order have to all intents and purposes broken down in South Africa. The horrifying statistics for rape breed the kind of fear that has you leaping at shadows, jumping red lights and climbing out of bed in the middle of the night to check, yet again, that you have double-locked the doors. To protect your home even halfway adequately, it now seems that you need to pay an 'armed response' security firm.

But whatever you do is never enough. One Black businessman said he had lost count of the numbers of his friends who had been mugged. Everyone is in the firing line. No social gathering can take place without horror stories being exchanged. But at this point we get some hint of the censorship that hitherto has been mobilised to keep as much as possible of the truth from the public gaze (presumably an increasingly difficult task in the ever-worsening crisis engulfing the country).

A White security man commented on the criminal mayhem: "It's happening to your friends, your brother, his wife, your sister, your mother, but it isn't something you read in the papers or hear about on the television news any more." He carried a gun, but he wasn't fooling himself. He knew it could happen to him.

In Mandela's 'Rainbow Nation' the dream is running blood red. Clearly South Africa's new ANC Government is almost neurotically aware that the legitimacy of its rule is at stake here. Nowhere is the situation worse than in Johannesburg, where it is exemplified in all its worst manifestations.

Built on the largest seam of gold ever discovered, this was once the richest city in Africa, a gleaming steel-and-glass citadel rising out of the brown ocean of the Veld, a testiment to the economic power of the White community that built it, but also a example of what can be achieved by hard work and individual enterprise. And now? The skyscrapers are still there, but the people who gave them life and prosperity have gone, driven out by hordes of squatters, beggars and illegal traders who bought Mandela's promise of a 'better life for all' - and demanded instant delivery.

Oil cans blaze in the marble foyers of what used to be the headquarters of banks and airlines. There are goats tethered in hallways. Corrugated iron huts have sprung up on the once-manicured lawns. This is not an environment in which any respectable business person, be they Black or White, can live or work - and most have fled. The country's flag carrier, South African Airways, has taken refuge in the distant outer suburbs. The big mining houses (which practically built the town) and even the Stock Exchange are to follow suit.
It is evident they can hardly remain in a city centre in which it is unsafe for their employees to travel to and from work. The Carlton Hotel has closed and sold all its contents, and the Holiday Inn is a deserted fortress, its 800 empty rooms protested by reinforced steel shutters. All this is the tale of one of the world's major cities crumbling into chaos and dereliction, perhaps one day in the not too distant future to become as defunct as ancient Babylon.

It is now impossible even to walk in any degree of safety to the South African Supreme Court building to get one's case heard. The alleyways leading to it are prowled by muggers who 'are not open to appeal'. 'Affirmative action' has led to the colonisation of the bench by magistrates who are illiterate, incompetent, corrupt and racially and politically biased, and routinely bail murderers and rapists back into the community to re-offend. Cases are never dealt with, crime explodes - no law, no order!
As dusk falls the streets start filling with prostitutes and criminals pushing drugs, and pills that turn a black skin white - before eventually killing you (if AIDS hasn't claimed you first; up to 10% of the population is carrying the virus and three-quarters of the entire health budget will soon be spent on treating the incurable). You hear the occasional sound of gunfire rolling down from Hillbrow, by cruel coincidence Johannesburg's first integrated neighbourhood.

To many this does not seem so much of a coincidence. The police keep promising to move in and clean the place up; they never do, and if they did it probably wouldn't make any difference; the Minister in charge of so-called security recently admitted to parliament that a policeman is three times more likely to commit a serious crime than an average member of the public.”


Views from the Carlton Centre
note that from high above in the Carlton Centre, the views look like a wealthy developed city, however in the past 10 years many of the office buildings have been abandoned, taken over by the homeless, and the scene looks very different from the street level...see below and further below in the last section of the "unknown locations" pictures.

Looking north-east towards Hillbrow. Tallest building in the pic is the Ponte City Apartments, which were developed as a luxury condo but is now rumored to be occupied by drug lords.

Street level shots around the CBD

Former Synagogue

Pictures below
Noted as the most dangerous community in South Africa, just north of Johannesburg's CBD. An article is below regarding its infamous new years eve celebrations.

“By 1am on New Years Day one person had already been certified dead
on arrival at Johannesburg Hospital and there was a growing number
of people in the casualty ward who had been shot, stabbed or
injured in car accidents.

Sister Jocelyn Eales said the first 40 minutes of the new year had
been relatively quiet. But things changed dramatically shortly
before 1am when one person was killed in a car accident and a
second was fighting for his life.

At least six people had been admitted suffering from gunshot

Eales said that until then the majority of injuries had been minor
lacerations suffered by Hillbrow pedestrians who had been hit by

Automatic gunfire, fireworks and screaming multitudes leaning out
of windows in central Johannesburg's flatlands heralded the new
year at midnight.

Mattresses, bottles, chairs, tables and other objects were hurled
from windows along Hillbrow's canyon-like thoroughfares, a Sapa
reporter said.

Residents in Joubert Park and Berea found it sporting to throw
bottles and bricks at police who responded with stun grenades and
shotgun fire.

In Hillbrow the brave ran a gauntlet of flying debris, jubilant
when they reached the other end of the block without injury.”

And from bbc

New Year's flying fridges warning

South African police will crack down hard on anybody throwing old fridges from high-rise buildings during the New Year's holiday, they say.

Police and soldiers are on patrol in Johannesburg's notorious Hillbrow suburb, famous for the practice.

Throwing heavy objects from balconies and firing guns have become something of a bad "New Year's institution," said police Inspector Kriben Naidoo.

Revellers have been killed in the past after being hit by stray bullets.

It is not clear why Hillbrow residents have taken to seeing in the New Year by throwing objects such as fridges, microwave ovens, beds, rubbish bins and condoms out of their windows.

Some also aim their New Year fireworks horizontally, so they go from one high-rise apartment into another.

Police wear helmets and bullet-proof vests when on duty on New Year's Eve, reports AFP news agency.

Emergency centre
"We have given out thousands of pamphlets pleading with people not to throw objects, including things like refrigerators, from their balconies, as well as asking people not to fire celebratory shots in the air," said Inspector Naidoo.

He said armoured vehicles would be stationed throughout Hillbrow and the police would raid any buildings where there were problems.

A private medical services spokesperson said doctors and paramedics would be deployed in Hillbrow and an emergency centre had been set up at a fire station to deal with injuries.
"We will have at least four doctors and more than 20 medical personnel working around the clock in a combined effort with provincial health authorities," said Mandy Toubkin.


Named for SOuth WEst TOwnship, which was were Nelson Mandela grew up and many of the apartheid riots occured. Keep in mind Soweto is a huge city of over 2 million people, which is improving, and has middle class suburban style communties, these images only display the worst conditions of Soweto.



3,638 Posts
Wow great post I have always been very interested in the unsafe environment of this city. I would hope others will post some more information and pictures. It still seems a bit odd that all of those nice office buildings can be abandon.

3,638 Posts
More Hillbrow


Crime in South Africa
"One of the favourite sweeping statements of the pessimists is that South Africa has the highest crime rate in the world, or that our cities are the murder capitals of the world. This is simply not true.

"According to the United Nations, Columbia has the highest rate of intentional homicide per 100 000 people, Australia has the highest burglary rate, Spain has the highest robbery rate, and Norway has the highest rate of drug offences. Homerton Hospital in the London district of Hackney treats more gunshot and knife wounds per capita each month than the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto. Almost twice as many cars are stolen in Buenos Aires than in Johannesburg, three times more breaking and entering happens in Dar es Salaam, and twice as much robbery happens in Rio de Janeiro."

- South Africa: Reasons to Believe! by Guy Lundy and Wayne Visser , 2003 (Aardvark Press, Cape Town)

*An account of a visitor-We never felt threatened or intimidated, but often surprised locals if we insisted on walking short distances, even in "better" neighbourhoods. A mild sort of "siege mentality" or paranoia does exist in Johannesburg, at least, and high walls, barbed wire and electric fences surround every home and many businesses. A home decorating magazine article describing the various attributes of gravel vs grass in your garden concluded with "gravel provides an early warning system; grass allows approach without warning." And everyone we met personally knew victims of violent crime, and had had their own homes burglared within the last six months or less. Locals are quick to blame illegal immigrants from Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Mozambique for the high crime rate reputation here.

The Rosa Hotel, Berea: boarded up and abandoned, but broken into by squatters and now occupied.

802 Posts
My aunt lived in South Africa for a year. People who try to defend the country's crime statistics by way of comparison are fooling themselves according to what she told me. I don't know myself as I've never been there (and currently have absolutely no intention of going) The way she described it was, unfortunately, pretty much identical to the way that first article at the top did. Every home was a compound, the prisons were a joke because they literally had holes in the walls big enough for people to simply walk through, everyone had been mugged at that very least....etc.,...
Obviously this was the creation of Apartheid and maybe it will serve as a lesson in the future. Major reforms must be phased in as soon as they can be assumed to be workable. It was a mistake of the SA government to simply open up the doors like this; They should have provided education and healthcare first ! Then they should have gone by baby steps instead of leaps.
But they have reaped what they had sown.

XPC Fagua chinanuca
10,319 Posts
Pretty sad to hear about the conditions in Johanesburg...although from my personal experience as a colombian, i've learnt not to trust everything a news agency says on security and things like that, because when written by foreigners, truth is a bit blurred

12,480 Posts
As a black South African, I would to say that no one has ever denied a fact that South Africa's got crime. The crime rate in most areas is going down, while there are some areas where the crime is bad. I must say that the Hillbrow area which is, were you find thousands of Nigerians and other illegal immegrants, is the problem in Joburg. The city is now gurdaded by the cameras and you find plenty of security guys on most of its street corners. The Johannesburg Metro police and the SAPS are trying to eradicte the crime. One thing I must say is that our government is easy on illegal immigrants as they are the ones who are causing havoc, most especially the Nigerians.

In terms of development I must say the your pictures are outdated. Yes, there are places which looks nusty, but the Johannesburg Develeopment Agency and other companies are busy with the renovations of the buildings and the demolishing the ones that cannot be fixed. There's a lot of development going in and around the city. Please go check this so that you can learn more about Johannesburg. The Soweto township is growing like crazy in terms of development and constructions and for more information on South African township please go check this thread

I must remind you that South Africa is not a perfect country but hopeufl things will be fine soon. To learn more about good things happeing is South Africa, please logon to and to learn more about our fast growing economy go to

I must say that I have moved to Johannesburg's Roodepoort about 5 months back and enjoying every bit of it, even though I hate Hillbrow. Life is good and as a party animal, I must say that I don't ever wish to move to other places.

I lived in Hillbrow, circa 1988, and it was FANTASTIC. It was the New York of Africa, the gay heartland, extremely cosmopolitan and full of pavement cafes etc. I moved out of Johannesburg in 2001 (moved to Cape Town) because the rot is like a virus, it keeps spreading and the wealthy keep moving further North or further South. A famous journalist once described the situation as a swarm of locusts that move into an area, destroy it and move onto the next area. I also read an article about Hillbrow 3 days ago where they describe the situation as worse than Beirut or Baghdad.

Now I am leaving South Africa for good, there is no place to run to anymore.

203 Posts
Man it is really sad to see Joburg like this. How are conditions on other South American cities such as Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth compared to Johannesburg?

They have got to learn that the key is to restore its downtown! Are there any MAJOR plans to do that?

forista vitalicio
26,813 Posts
I'm confused...has nothing improved? I thought the Carlton Center was filled up again, the mall reopened and the hotel was going to be turned into a smaller hotel and apartment building...I've been looking at the info on projects in Johannesburg, there are numerous apartment buildings being restored and many streets remodeled...Hasn't crime dropped significantly the past couple of years thanks to the cameras installed?

This thread contradicts the one on projects in the South African forum.

7,297 Posts
Newtown is a very safe part of the downtown and is quite modern. Luxury condos are popping up, developers are buying derelict buildings and fixing them up with new security, Ponte City Apts. are under new management with a high-tech security system, office towers are being bought.

I really do have hope for Downtown Johannesburg. But the sprawl out in the suburbs really does need to stop and be concentrated into the CBD instead.
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