How is life in Johannesburg

Is Johannesburg Really That Dangerous?

Until a few years ago it was still considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. We're talking about Johannesburg, or Jozi, as it is affectionately known by the South Africans. Before I left, I often wondered whether I should do my internship in Johanensburg at all. To this day it has a very bad reputation - is there anything to it?

When I told my family and friends that I wanted to do an internship abroad in Johannesburg, most of them looked at me with big eyes. They asked if that wasn't very dangerous. They had only heard bad stories about Johannesburg, they added. In order to broaden my information horizon, I also looked on the website of the Foreign Office. But that didn't calm me down at all: “South Africa has a high crime rate, especially in large cities and their peripheral areas. This also includes acts of violence such as robbery, rape and murder ”.

Great, that can be fun ..

Unlike Germany

First of all, it is important that you do not compare the security in Germany with that in South Africa. It's just different in Johannesburg, that doesn't automatically mean that it's much worse. You get used to a lot.

First world and third world meet

You should also be aware that South Africa is considered a front runner in terms of inequality in income and wealth distribution. At the same time, the poverty rate is very high. On the one hand South Africa is one of the most developed countries in Africa, on the other hand you can often see poverty every day. So in South Arica and also in Johannesburg you will be constantly confronted with contrasts and contradictions.

My sense of security in Johannesburg

First of all, I can reassure you - nothing bad happened to me during my time in Johannesburg. I never felt threatened either; not even alone. But at first it seems pretty strange when you can't see the houses for the walls. The wealthy secure their property with meter high walls, electric fences and 24 hour security service. I also had accommodation that looked more like a high-security wing from the outside. Is that really necessary? Yes, because burglaries often occur in Johannesburg, which is why certain security steps must be followed in advance. Don't be afraid of that - I never felt unsafe there.

If you follow certain rules of the game in Johannesburg, you can get involved with the city.

These rules of the game are important:

  1. Only use the Uber app to get from A to B. You should go longer distances Not cover it on foot or by public transport. The safest way to get around Johannesburg is with Uber. But there are also a few areas where it is relatively safe to walk on foot. Examples of fairly safe neighborhoods are: Melville, Emmarantia, Green Side, and Sandton.
  2. Avoid exploring unsafe areas on your own. Downtown Johannesburg still has a bad reputation. The situation has been particularly explosive in the past few months as there have been xenophobic attacks and looting. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't see the area at all. To get a diverse picture of Johannesburg and not just live in a bubble, I advise you to take a tour with a local guide. Some of the buildings are very impressive. This is because during apartheid the whites, i.e. the wealthy, lived in the inner city and after the end of the regime moved to the suburbs of Johannesburg and the poorer black population came to the inner city. I was really surprised by the city center. People were sometimes very interested in me and greeted me when I passed them. I always felt safe with my guide. But another time I had the situation when my boyfriend and I were looking for a place that someone had approached us and said we should take an Uber rather than walk around alone. That's what we did.
  3. Don't walk around Johannesburg in the evening. As I said, you can walk through some areas during the day. However, you shouldn't be walking around in the evening - even in supposedly safe areas. Use your own car or Uber.
  4. Keep an eye on your surroundings. In Johanensburg, too, I heard one or the other bad story about the city. Or sometimes there were signs like “Closed for robbery” on the door of shops and pharmacies. But that didn't stop me from experiencing the city. I always paid attention to what was happening around me - you should do that too.
  5. Don't stop at red lights at night and lock your doors. Theoretically, you might get mugged while you wait at the traffic lights. That's why it is better not to stop at traffic lights and intersections in the evening.
  6. Don't show what valuables you have. Jewelry, yes, but not expensive.

Johannesburg has so much to offer

Jozi is certainly not the safest city, but neither is it the most dangerous city in the world. You should just be mindful in Johannesburg and then you can experience the city in all its different facets. In my opinion Johannesburg is a bit of the underdog in South Africa. So far, many European tourists have made a wide detour around the city and mostly fly straight to Cape Town. This is a big mistake! Because the city has so much to offer for those interested in history and art. At the moment it is even going through an urban change and is becoming more and more hip. I had seen neighborhoods in Johannesburg where I found that even Berlin or Leipzig couldn't keep up. Despite the high crime rate, the city has an indescribable atmosphere.

No glorification of Johannesburg

I really liked Johannesburg with its contrasts and the extremely friendly people. Despite all of this, you should generally consider the importance of your own safety when traveling and living. If you want to explore a city without much hesitation, I would advise against Johannesburg. Nonetheless, I was extremely happy to be able to form my own picture of the largest city in South Africa - and I was totally positively surprised. I would do my internship in Johannesburg again at any time! To be honest, Johannesburg was my favorite city in South Africa, even before Cape Town!