The State of Urban Safety in South Africa Report 2016

It is our great pleasure to present the first State of Urban Safety in South Africa Report 2016. This report is produced by the members of the SA Cities Urban Safety Reference Group (USRG), hosted by the South African Cities Network (SACN), with the support of the GIZ’s Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention (VCP) programme. It is a collation of experiences in peer-to-peer learning, advocacy and knowledge generation and sharing among city practitioners since the USRG’s inception in early 2014.


The USRG was established to rectify the lack of structured collaborative learning, exchange and advocacy among city practitioners and national government stakeholders on issues of urban safety. It is the first institutionalised forum in South Africa that enables evidence and practice-based learning on the theme of urban safety and violence prevention to inform urban policy, planning and management. This report is a key contribution to that end and will strengthen the case for supporting cities to build urban safety capability.


Cities have distinct safety challenges and tend to experience higher rates of crime, which have implications for their growth, development and quality of life. As a result of poor planning and socioeconomic factors, low-income areas, such as townships and informal settlements, suffer from particularly poor levels of safety. This uneven spatial distribution of safety affects the overall inclusivity, efficiency and functioning of cities.