Are South Africans relocating to crime-free countries?

Not all the countries where South Africans are relocating are considered safe, but looking at the statistics, most of us choose wisely.

Latest crime statistics in South Africa revealed an ugly truth – the number of committed crimes is steadily rising, and without a single good news in sight. Crime is one of the main reasons why South Africans are immigrating. There are many other reasons too – politics, all this talk about land grab, economic reasons, racism, an uncertain future for kids, unemployment – the list goes on and on. But, still, the fact that you can lose your life just because there is nobody to protect you, makes people seriously look at the other countries. And now more than ever.

Murder rate as a catalyst

The most serious crime, murder, or homicide rate, can be used as the main catalyst to estimate if the country we are going to is safe enough or not. South Africa has gone over the unimaginable number of 20.000 murders in 2017. First time in its history. Simply speaking, there were 57 people murdered every day in 2017 and the rate of 35,7 murders per 100.000 people, is one of the highest in the world. But, there are still some countries with worse statistics – tiny country of El Salvador has 82.8 murders on 100.000 people, and it is followed by Venezuela and Honduras, with 56, US Virgin Islands with 49,  Jamaica with 47 and Belize with 38. So, I hope, nobody will advise you to move there.

But, even if the whole continent of  Latin America, together with Central America,  is plagued with crime, South Africans are still relocating over there. Yes, crime can be limited to certain areas, certain groups (drug dealers, criminals) but the very existence of crime in such numbers reflect the fact that the police in those countries is inefficient and can’t really fight it. And that is a perfect recipe for the growth of crime.

Most dangerous countries

One of the countries with a  growing South African population is Mexico. With a population of almost 130 million, Mexico has recorded 25.000 murders in 2016. The crime rate is 19,2 per 100.000 people. Other popular emigration countries for South Africans are Costa Rica (11,9) with 580 murders and Panama (9,7), with 400 murders. The further south you move, you are better off. The crime rates are getting lower, but still far from acceptable levels: rate in Uruguay is 7.7 and in Argentina 5,9. The safest country in Latin America, Chile, has a murder rate of 3,46 – brilliant for South American standards, but still far from being safe.

When people decide to leave South Africa, they usually go very far. It makes sense, because, even our neighboring countries are not much safer from South Africa. Namibia has the crime rate of 17,3 per 100.000, Botswana 15. Even Zimbabwe is a better option than those two, with the rate of 6,7 followed by Zambia with 5,3. Our safest neighbor is Mozambique, with the rate of 3.4. Surprisingly, tiny Mauritius has a rate of almost 2 with 23 murders committed in 2016.

Further away

Not many South Africans move to Asia, but some do. In the more developed Asian countries, crime is low, but the ones that are more flexible in their immigration policies, are known for higher crime rates. The Philippines is the worst, at the rate of 11 (11,385 murders in 2016) followed by Thailand with a rate of 3.2. In the western part of Asia the crime statistics are much better – Georgia, an ex-Soviet republic has some South Africans living there and the rate of 1 per 100.000. But crime is the least of the worries in Georgia, it is in the middle of East-West battlefield. Another country, liked by many South Africans is the United Arab Emirates, with a rate 0,9 per 100.000

Safe havens

Because of either ancestry ties, language or simply similar lifestyle, many South Africans choose to go to Australia, Canada, US, UK or New Zealand. In this group, the US is probably the worst option, crime-wise, with 5.35 murders per 100.000 and 17.250 in total. Still lower than the total in South Africa. Canada with 1.68 is much safer, the rate in the UK is 1.2 and in New Zealand  0,99 and Australia 0,94.

The safest region in the world is Western Europe, and that is one of the reasons why half of the world is looking to relocate there.
Except for France with rate 1,23 and Cyprus (1.11) all the other countries, favorite amongst South Africans are under the magic number 1, which makes a country extremely safe. Malta has a rate of 0,94, followed by Germany with 0,88, Ireland with 0,8 and the Netherlands with 0,73. Three safest countries where South Africans are relocating are Spain with 0,69, Portugal with 0,65 and Austria with 0,50.

Countries where South Africans relocate and murder rates per 100.000 people

  1. Mexico – 19,2
  2. Costa Rica  – 11,9
  3. Philippines – 11
  4. Panama – 9,7
  5. Uruguay – 7,7
  6. Argentina – 5,9
  7. United States – 5,35
  8. Chille – 3,46
  9. Thailand – 3,2
  10. Mauritius – 1,95
  11. Canada – 1,68
  12. France – 1,23
  13. UK – 1,2
  14. Cyprus – 1,1
  15. New Zealand – 0,99
  16. Australia – 0,94
  17. Malta – 0,94
  18. UAE – 0,9
  19. Germany – 0,88
  20. Ireland – 0,8
  21. Netherlands – 0,73
  22. Spain – 0,69
  23. Portugal – 0,65
  24. Austria – 0,5


Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

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