Best VPN for South Africa (2020)
If you live in or are traveling to South Africa, the government no longer needs your permission to collect information about you.
Thanks to the passage of Film and Publications Amendment Bill, the authorities now have the power to monitor your online activities.
Fortunately, with a VPN you can reclaim your privacy.
However, with so many VPNs available, it can be hard to pick the right service?
Well, worry not. I’m here to help.
Currently, the best VPN in South Africa is ExpressVPN, and in this article, I’ll tell you why.
But first, let’s take a quick look at some of the other top performing VPNs for South Africa – and yes, I really do test them!
My Rating Criteria
Not all VPNs are created equal.
Some are good, some are bad, and some are just awful. So, how do you decide on which VPN is good and which is bad to use in South Africa?
Here are some of the things I considered when evaluating my best VPNs for South Africa.
Global Server Coverage
The first question you should ask yourself is: Does the VPN have servers in South Africa?
If you connect to a VPN server that’s located in your own country, you’ll get the best results in terms of connection speeds. A South African IP will also allow you to access South Africa only streaming sites like StarSat and Media Box from abroad.
The ideal VPN should also have servers in strategic locations around the world.
Why? It’s simple.
To access services like Netflix US and BBC iPlayer that aren’t available in South Africa, your VPN must have servers in a country where these sites are viewable.
Privacy & Security – Is It Safe?
How well does your VPN protect your anonymity?
With the ratification of the Film and Publications Amendment Bill, South African ISPs are now required to collect your personal details and alert the authorities whenever you post prohibited content, be it on social media or elsewhere.
Wait there is more…
According to Forbes, South Africa has the second most Android banking cyber attacks. To stay safe, you need a VPN that focuses on both security and anonymity.
AES 256-bit encryption with OpenVPN remains the gold-standard, but then again, you also can’t go wrong with other top protocols like IKEv2 or L2TP/IPsec.
Your ideal VPN should also have leak-free connections.
If your VPN is exposing your IP or DNS information, then you might as well use none.
Speed – How Fast Is the VPN?
A slow connection might be okay for some light browsing, but it might end up being problematic if you’re downloading torrents or streaming videos.
Unfortunately, when it comes to VPNs, what you gain in privacy and security, you lose in speed.
As I alluded to earlier, nearby servers will almost always be faster than far away ones. For the best performance, I recommend getting a VPN that has servers in South Africa.
Compatibility & Ease of Use
Is the VPN compatible with your primary device?
Is it easy to install and set up?
How about the reliability of their customer support?
Connecting to a VPN shouldn’t be complicated, and any VPN that makes it so isn’t worth your time.
The Best VPNs for South Africa (Paid Ones)
ExpressVPN – Premium All-Around VPN
ExpressVPN is an excellent VPN for South Africa.
The service is robust and delivers blazing fast speeds across its South African servers.
Globally, ExpressVPN is a sensation, as well. The service offers 3000+ servers in 160 locations across 94 countries, allowing you to access virtually any content in the world. This includes services like US Netflix, HBO, and several US TV channels which are blocked in South Africa.
Besides South Africa, ExpressVPN also has servers in several other Africa countries including Kenya, Algeria, and Egypt.
Security & Privacy
That said, what really impressed us about ExpressVPN was its advanced privacy and security features. First off, the service uses bank-grade AES 256-bit encryption with OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec.
If you are a privacy-focused user, you will be thrilled to know ExpressVPN does not log traffic data, DNS queries, or anything that could be used to identify you.
Additionally, the provider uses private, zero-knowledge DNS, which eliminates the risk posed by third-party DNS.
With ExpressVPN, you also get IPv6 leak protection and an automatic kill switch, which helps keep your data safe even if your VPN connection drops.
It also comes with the split tunneling feature, which is great because it allows you to route some of your apps’ traffic through the VPN while enabling the rest to access the internet directly.
Compatibility & Ease of Use
ExpressVPN apps are easy to use and you can run the VPN on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Chromebook, Nook, and routers.
With a single license, you’ll be allowed up to 5 simultaneous connections.
ExpressVPN is slightly more expensive than premium options, but it gives excellent all-around performance.
Its monthly plan will set you back $12.95, but you can get a 35% discount with the yearly plan. Into the bargain, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee that lets you try the service free of charge.
NordVPN - Perfect for Streaming
Another great choice for South Africa residents.
The VPN gives users access to 36 servers in South Africa alone and over 5100 in 58 other countries.
Server coverage aside, NordVPN also scores well in multiple other categories.
Its speeds are incredible, and security is impregnable.
The service also works well with torrenting and bypasses geo-restrictions with ease (Netflix’s included).
The VPN also comes with SmartPlay technology, which allows you to access your favorite streaming services securely with no extra steps.
Whenever you try to view blocked media, SmartPlay automatically identifies and connects to the best server.
Security & Privacy
Security wise, NordVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption with OpenVPN and IKEv2–the two top recommended protocols.
Extra security features include Multi-Hop (double encryption), automatic kill switch, Tor over VPN, and CyberSec, an ad and malware blocking tool.
Compatibility & Ease of Use
NordVPN apps are sleek and easy to use, even for a novice.
Supported platforms include Windows, Mac, Linux, Smart TVs, iOS, and Android.
At $11.95, NordVPN’s monthly pricing is a bit similar to that of ExpressVPN.
However, they do offer amazing long-term plans that enable you to save up to 70%.
A 30-day money-back guarantee covers all subscriptions, and with a single account you can connect up to 6 devices.
Surfshark – The Affordable Alternative
Surfshark is an affordable VPN for South Africa. Surfshark, as the name suggests, provides seamless access to geo-restricted websites and services.
The VPN delivers 1040+ servers in 61+ countries, including South Africa.
Surfshark is compatible with Netflix and iPlayer, and thanks to its fast server speeds, you can stream movies and TV shows in HD.
Similarly to ExpressVPN, they also offer split tunneling which allows you to optimize speeds by reducing the traffic going through the VPN.
Security & Privacy
Surfshark takes user privacy seriously, and they do not monitor or store what you do online. By default, the service uses AES 256-bit encryption with IKEv2/IPsec protocol.
If you would rather use OpenVPN, Surfshark is compatible with the protocol, as well.
Supported Devices & Ease of Use
You can use Surfshark with all the primary devices, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, smart TVs, and game consoles. Incredibly, there are no limits as to the number of devices you can connect at a go.
Surfshark offers three pricing plans. While their monthly plan may be costly at $11.95, their 2-year plan allows you to knock an incredible 83% off the price tag.
That’s as affordable as it gets. If you are not willing to commit just yet, there is a standard 30-day money-back guarantee option.
CyberGhost – Best for Security
CyberGhost is a reliable VPN service with strong, unique features, along with beautiful, easy-to-use apps. Few VPNs can match CyberGhost’s massive server network. With the VPN, users can access 10 servers in South Africa and an incredible 5700 servers in 90 countries overall.
CyberGhost supports both P2P and streaming sites like Netflix on many of its servers. Unfortunately, none of the South Africa based servers allows torrent traffic. You can still download torrents with CyberGhost using their other servers.
Connections are stable, and although CyberGhost lags behind both ExpressVPN and NordVPN in terms of speed, I was still able to stream content without any issues.
Security & Privacy
When it comes to privacy and security, CyberGhost leaves no stone unturned.
The service uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption on all their server connections. As for the protocols, CyberGhost prioritizes security and uses the robust OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols only. No L2TP/IPsec. No PPTP.
I really appreciate that CyberGhost includes an internet kill switch and DNS leak prevention which add an extra layer of protection.
The VPN is also fully Tor compatible and comes with an ad, malware, tracking blocker.
Device Compatibility & Ease of Use
CyberGhost has splendid apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Firestick, and Android TV. The VPN also works with routers as well and can support up to 7 devices simultaneously.
The provider offers a 24-hour free trial (no credit card needed) after which you’ll to subscribe to a paid plan.
Currently, CyberGhost is giving a 79% discount on their 3-year plan, which is available at $2.99 per month, billed every 3 years.
IPVanish – Great for Speeds
IPVanish is another VPN that works well in South Africa.
The VPN has over 1300 bare metal servers in 75+ countries across the world.
Needless to say, some of those servers are located here in South Africa – 7 to be exact.
Of all the VPNs I tested, IP Vanish delivered some of the fastest VPN speeds.
On average, connections were only 15% slower than without a VPN.
Combine this with the VPN’s ability to unblock Netflix, and you have a strong challenger for ExpressVPN’s streaming title. That said, I was disappointed to find out that the VPN does not work with BBC iPlayer.
If you are UK expat looking to watch iPlayer exclusives like Dr Who, EastEnders, or the Great British Bake Off while in South Africa, you may want to steer clear of IPVanish. Other than that, the VPN works reliably with geo-restrictrictions.
Privacy & Security
IPVanish efforts on the security front are commendable. The service uses the powerful AES 256-bit encryption with OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPsec.
IPvanish is a zero-logs VPN service provider, and they keep neither activity nor connection logs.
Extra security features include an internet kill switch, DNS leak protection.
Although I would like to see them add Tor compatibility, I was generally pleased with their security and privacy.
Compatibility & Ease of Use
IPVanish supports a wide range of devices.
It has native clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, iOS, and Fire TV.
You can also manually set up the VPN on Linux, Chromebooks, and routers.
Set up is simple, and in case you ran into an issue, IPVanish has professional customer support available 24/7.
The Free VPNs for South Africa
Do free VPNs work in South Africa?
If yes, why not just get a free VPN for South Africa and side step the cost of purchasing a paid option?
Everything has a price, and that’s particularly true when it comes to VPNs.
While a free VPN may allow you to save some money in the short term, they are plagued with problems that may prove to be costly in the long term.
Some of the threats and dangers of using free VPNs include:
- Weak protocols and encryption (easily crackable security)
- They may log your browsing history and sell it to third parties
- Your bandwidth might be stolen and shared with other users
- They might record your passwords and credit card information
But that’s not all.
Free VPNs may also inject ads and spam into your devices.
They also come with slow connections speeds and limited torrenting.
And with Netflix and iPlayer getting tougher and tougher with VPNs, it’s hard to find a free provider that works with the streaming services.
All things considered, you would be better off with a paid alternative. If budget is an issue, I recommend using ExpressVPN’s free trial instead of a free VPN.
By taking advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee, you can benefit from all ExpressVPN premium features, including robust security and privacy, buffering-free video streaming, and fast downloads.
That said, if you have to get a free VPN, below are a few services that might be worth checking out.
ProtonVPN is a solid VPN that offers stable and secure connections.
The service uses industry standard AES 256-bit encryption with OpenVPN and IKEv2 – the two top rated protocols. Impressively, ProtonVPN supports Perfect Forward Secrecy, which adds an extra layer of protection.
They also maintain a strict no logs policy and offer advanced security features like DNS Leak prevention, Always-On VPN, and internet kill switch.
ProtonVPN’s server network is spread across 42 countries around the world.
In total, they provide access to 554 servers, of which 4 are located in South Africa.
However, if you are looking for a free VPN with African servers, ProtonVPN may not be the service for you. Although the VPN has four servers in South Africa, you can only access them if you’re a paying user.
The free ProtonVPN subscription has servers in only three countries—US, Japan, and the Netherlands. It is also limited in terms of speed and does not support P2P traffic.
TunnelBear is a respectable free VPN for South Africa.
This Canada-based VPN uses AES 256-bit encryption, as well as the industry-standard OpenVPN protocol. They also maintain a strict ‘no logging’ policy.
TunnelBear works perfectly with Netflix, Spotify, and several other premier streaming services.
However, on a bad side, the free plan is limited to only 500 MB per month. This makes it inadequate for bandwidth intensive tasks like streaming or torrenting.
While TunnelBear’s server list is commendable, it does lack servers in South Africa.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are VPNs Legal in South Africa?
VPNs are completely legal in South Africa, and you can freely use them to surf the web, stream videos, and conduct business online.
Do I Need a VPN in South Africa?
Does NordVPN Work in South Africa?
NordVPN works perfectly in South Africa and boasts over 38 servers in the country.
Its impressive server list makes it one of the fastest and most reliable VPNs not only in South Africa but also Mozambique, Namibia, and other neighboring countries.