5 best VPNs for South Africa in 2022 (freedom and privacy online)

Ruheni Mathenge Last updated: June 11, 2022
Disclosure

We tested over 50 providers. This article lists the top 5 options for South Africa that are safe, fast, and boast incredible unblocking capabilities.

Sneak peek at South Africa VPNs

South Africa is among those countries that allow their citizens to enjoy complete internet freedom with no strict laws. However, there is always a risk of tracking, identity theft, hacking, and other cybercrimes. Besides, accessing local (from outside SA) and geo-restricted content and sites is always challenging. Nonetheless, VPNs are the best options in such cases. Some of the best South Africa VPNs not only offer multiple fast and secure SA servers but also maintain your online privacy. Moreover, these resilient VPNs allow unblocking the banned content within or outside the country.

South Africa is technologically advanced, with one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s most significant internet penetration rates. However, although there is internet freedom in the country, you can never know who tracks your online movements.

The best way to maintain your online privacy is by using a virtual private network (VPN). Besides, it will also help you avoid geo-restrictions to unblock content and services from anywhere.

So, this article reviews the best VPNs for South Africa to help you pick the perfect service to protect your privacy. Also, you’ll learn how to use a VPN in South Africa, which providers you should avoid in RSA, and much more.

Quick summary of the top South African VPNs

Here is a quick list of the best VPNs for South Africa if you don’t have the time to go through the entire article.

  1. NordVPN – Our #1 recommended VPN for South Africa. The service follows a strict zero-logs policy, offers NordLynx protocol, automatic kill switch, and CyberSec ad blocker. 
  2. Surfshark – Best budget-friendly South African VPN. It comes with support for unlimited simultaneous connections, Camouflage Mode, MultiHop servers, and military-grade encryption.
  3. ExpressVPN – Offers good-speed servers in South Africa. The provider has impeccable security, fast-speed servers, and excellent unblocking capabilities.
  4. IPVanish – All-round VPN for RSA (the Republic of South Africa). It bypasses geo-restrictions, is compatible with almost all devices, and provides strong encryption as well as an automatic kill switch.
  5. Private Internet Access – Its biggest strength is its massive server network. Allows you to customize the encryption level, does not keep logs, effective ad blocker, and 30-day money-back guarantee.

Research methodology: How we choose these VPNs for South Africa

We tested more than 100 VPNs to ascertain the best services that work in South Africa. Here are the criteria we used in our research.

South African servers

The best VPN service for South Africa should have multiple servers in the country. This will help you access local channels such as SABC 1 and banking services like Absa Group when abroad. All the VPNs on this list have at least one server in South Africa.


Unblocking capability

A VPN with a global server network will help you bypass content restrictions. In this guide, we have featured VPN services with superior unblocking capability. So, when you are in South Africa, you can access the desired library of your preferred streaming services such as Netflix US, HBO Max, etc. using these VPNs.


Security

Another primary reason for using a VPN is to protect your online connections. Thankfully, all the VPNs on this list have adequate security features like military-grade encryption, kill switch, and more. 


Speed

You wouldn’t want to wait for a web page to load or a video to buffer forever. So, we did a VPN speed test by connecting to servers in different locations to see how they perform. The ones on this list are fast enough and will help you to browse and stream uninterrupted.


Money-back guarantee

Money-back guarantees allow you to test the VPN service with trust that you can get a refund if it doesn’t meet your needs. Notabl, all the VPNs on this list have this policy. So, you can easily try them out and see which one suits your browsing habits the best.


Best South Africa VPNs

Now that you know what to look for when choosing a VPN, let’s get started with the list of the best VPN services to use in South Africa our team handpicked for you.

1. NordVPN

NordVPN

Our number one recommended VPN for South Africa as its network includes over 50 servers from this region. That means you can always get a fast-speed server to access South African sites anywhere.

servers 5,000+ servers in 60 countries
P2P optimized servers P2P optimized servers
encryption AES-256-bit encryption
Zero-logs policy Keeps no logs
Kill switch Automatic kill switch
Ad Blocker feature CyberSec ad-blocker
simultaneous connections Allows 6 devices simultaneously
protection DNS/IPv6 protection
MultiHop mode Double VPN feature
money-back guarantee 30 days money-back guarantee
Pros
  • Provides South African IP address  
  • Unblocks popular streaming sites
  • Top-notch security
Cons
  • Complicated desktop app

NordVPN is an affordable VPN for South Africa, especially on the long-term package. Its apps are easy to install roughly taking less than 5 minutes.

The provider has more than 5000 servers in 60 countries, enabling you to avoid geographic restrictions. For example, you can connect to US servers to watch sports such as NBA and MLB live in action. Also, since it runs a server in South Africa, you can make transactions with your bank even when outside the country.

NordVPN is among the fastest VPNs we tested. The speed is enough to stream content in high definition for hours without lags or buffering. Remarkably, its recently launched NordLynx protocol improves the speed even further.

Thankfully, it has an incredible unblocking capability, bypassing restrictions of all the major streaming sites worldwide. So, for example, we didn’t have any issues streaming Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, and more during testing.

NordVPN uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption with perfect forward secrecy to protect your connections. Besides the NordLynx protocol, the NordVPN also provides OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, PPTP, and L2TP/IPSec.

Appreciably, the provider, based in Panama, does not hold any identifiable information. In fact, this no-logs policy has been independently verified by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).


2. Surfshark

SurfsharkVPN

Best budget-friendly South African VPN with impressive features, robust security, and unlimited simultaneous connections support to let you enjoy privacy in and outside the region.

servers 3,200+ servers in 65 countries
encryption AES-256-bit encryption
Ad Blocker feature CleanWeb adblocker feature
Zero-logs policy Zero-logs policy
Kill switch Automatic kill switch
Camouflage mode Camouflage Mode
simultaneous connections Allows unlimited devices simultaneously
MultiHop mode MultiHop mode
money-back guarantee 30-day money-back guarantee
Pros
  • Offers servers in South Africa
  • Powerful security
  • Unlimited device connections
Cons
  • Distant servers are slow

Surfshark is the best budget VPN for South Africa. The interface is clean and intuitive, making it suitable even for beginners.

It operates a huge server network with a majority from the US, thus making it easy to unblock US-based content. Nonetheless, it also has a significant server presence in other regions such as Europe, India, Canada, Australia, and of course, South Africa. It means you can continue watching shows on Showmax when abroad.

Surfshark offers reliable and consistent speed. We tested servers in over 30 locations and didn’t experience any significant slowdowns. It means you’ll always get enough speed to stream, play online games, and download torrent files safely.

The VPN is highly secure by the impenetrable AES 256-bit encryption fortified with 2048-bit DHE-RSA key exchange, SHA512 authentication, and perfect forward secrecy. In addition, its kill switch feature preserves your anonymity throughout.

Impressively, the provider supports multiple connection protocols such as IKEv2, OpenVPN, WireGuard, and Shadowsocks.

Another notable security feature is MultiHop servers. It adds an extra protection layer by rerouting your traffic through two servers instead of one. However, despite its usefulness for users in repressive regions, it may affect connection speeds.

Surfshark does not retain any identifiable information about you. While the company is based in the Netherlands, which is included in the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, Surfshark sticks to its no-logs policy by running its network on RAM-based servers. Moreover, it maintains a warrant canary where you can check whether Surfshark has received any subpoenas to share data.


3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

One of the top VPNs in the market is also the best choice to use in South Africa. It makes sure you have everything you want by offering reliable, secure, and blazing-fast connections.

servers 3,000+ servers in 94 countries
encryption AES-256-bit encryption
protection DNS/IPv6 leak protection
Trusted servers nord Boasts TrustedServer technology
Zero-logs policy Zero-logs policy
Kill switch Automatic kill switch
P2P optimized servers Supports P2P sharing
simultaneous connections Allows up to 5 simultaneous connections
money-back guarantee 30 days money back guarantee
Pros
  • Server in South Africa
  • Blazing-fast servers
  • Top-tier security and privacy features
Cons
  • Expensive packages

ExpressVPN is the best VPN service for South Africa. All its apps have a minimalist layout offering a simple Quick Connect feature. Plus, you can also connect to the servers manually.

The VPN has an extensive network that lets you access content from anywhere. Also, it has servers in South Africa, so you can follow your favorite local programs if you travel abroad.

ExpressVPN offers incredible speeds on both local and international servers. We didn’t experience any buffering or lagging when streaming from any location during our testing.

The provider uses a myriad of robust security features to protect you online. These include AES 256-bit encryption strengthened with 4096-bit RSA key, SHA-512 authentication, and perfect forward secrecy, alongside an automatic kill switch and DNS leak protection.

Furthermore, the service offers several protocol options to enable you to customize your connections. These include OpenVPN UDP/TCP, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPsec. Also, it offers a fast-speed, lightweight proprietary protocol known as ‘Lightway’ that drains less battery, hence suitable for mobile devices.

Notably, ExpressVPN uses TrustedServer technology to ensure your security by operating RAM-based servers that cannot store data.

Moreover, it is based in the British Virgin Islands, a region with no data retention laws. Also, its privacy policy clearly states that the provider does not retain, share or sell personal information. The only data it collects is for diagnostic purposes only.


4. IPVanish

IPVanish

An inclusive VPN service with affordable plans to unblock local content from South Africa anywhere abroad. Also works great within the country to access foreign streaming sites.

servers 2,000 servers in 75 locations globally
P2P optimized servers Supports P2P connections
encryption AES-256-bit encryption
Zero-logs policy No-logs policy
Kill switch Kill switch feature
simultaneous connections Unlimited simultaneous connections
money-back guarantee 30-day money-back guarantee
Pros
  • Several servers in South Africa
  • It does not restrict the number of devices
  • Provides secure connections
Cons
  • Unreliable customer support

IPVanish is reasonably priced, especially if you go with its annual plan. So, it is a great option to unblock streaming platforms in South Africa if you are on a budget. Thankfully, all its apps are quick and easy to set up.

It operates over 2,000 servers in 75 locations with more than 40,000 IP addresses. This will help you circumvent geo-restrictions of most sites worldwide. Also, it has around six servers in South Africa, so you can access local content easily when abroad.

IPVanish provides decent speed to handle most tasks, including streaming, torrenting, making video calls, etc. Although the latency may suffer a little bit when you connect to international servers, it’ll probably remain within the normal range.

A reliable VPN should help you unblock restricted content. Thankfully, this service works well with most streaming services such as Vudu, DAZN, ESPN, and YouTube. Unfortunately, it can’t bypass some VPN blocks.

Besides, the VPN safeguards your data with unbreakable AES 256-bit encryption.

IPVanish has a zero-logs policy. Although, there was a data-logging scandal in 2016 when it collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security. The good news is that the VPN was acquired by another company that guarantees utmost privacy to users.


5. Private Internet Access

Private internet access pros cons block logo

A user-friendly VPN service that covers long range of servers globally with decent speed. It also works great to unblock South African media anywhere.

servers Huge server network across 84 countries
encryption AES 128/256-bit encryption
simultaneous connections Up to 10 simultaneous connections
P2P optimized servers Supports P2P
Zero-logs policy No-logs policy
protection DNS leak protection
money-back guarantee 30-day money-back guarantee
Pros
  • Strong security
  • Massive server network
  • Tons of customization
Cons
  • Unable to unblock some sites

Private Internet Access (PIA) has the biggest server network on this list. Once you choose the subscription package and make the payment, installing the apps takes less than three minutes.

Inconsistent speeds can be very annoying when doing common activities such as streaming and browsing. PIA gave us outstanding speeds in some locations but wasn’t stable in other areas. So, the performance will mainly depend on your physical location and the server you use.

Depending on your connection, the service allows you to customize the encryption level with either AES 128 or AES 256-bit encryption. While AES 128-bit is lightweight and takes less toll on the system performance, AES 256-bit is more secure.

The most discouraging thing with PIA is that it is based in the US. This means that it must comply with the data retention laws and even hand over the information to authorities when requested. Fortunately, the privacy policy categorically states that it does not collect or keep any traffic or usage log.


How to get a South African IP address from abroad

If you are abroad, a VPN can let you get a South African IP address quickly to access local content. Follow these easy steps to do it:

  1. Subscribe to a reliable VPN service. Our number one recommendation is NordVPN as it has servers in South Africa, robust security, and impressive unblocking capabilities. 
  2. Choose the VPN client for your device and install it.
  3. Open the VPN app and connect to a South African server.
  4. That’s it, you are all set to unblock restricted websites with the new IP address.

Can I use a free VPN with a South African location?

When you are on a budget, you might consider a free VPN a good option. However, it is good to know the truth before you make this move, or you’ll regret it later.

The first major problem is the lack of security. Usually, premium VPNs like ExpressVPN and NordVPN use superior security features such as kill switch, encryption, perfect forward secrecy, and more. However, free VPNs don’t have the resources to offer dependable security, so your data and traffic will be at risk.

Moreover, many free VPN providers have been caught collecting and stealing user data to sell to third parties. That is why we advise you to choose premium no-logs VPNs. This means that your information will remain safe and your privacy upheld.

Another major way free VPNs monetize is through advertisements. So, in most cases, you’ll be bombarded with intrusive ads and popups, which will hinder your browsing and streaming experience. Fortunately, some premium VPNs such as NordVPN offer an ad blocker that prevents ads, malware, and trackers.

VPNs to avoid in South Africa

It is challenging to determine whether a VPN is secure or not based on what its website says. That is because most of them provide false information to lure new users. When researching for this review, we came across some VPNs you should avoid altogether. If you want complete security and need a VPN for privacy, do not use these. They include:

1. HolaVPN

Besides bombarding you with ads, Hola VPN developed a new way to make money. This is done by turning free users’ devices into exit nodes allowing paying customers to utilize the processing power. Essentially, the provider benefits from selling the bandwidth. Also, there was an incident where cybercriminals took over devices on the Hola network to carry out a botnet attack. That is why you should avoid it completely.


2. proXPN

This provider may seem attractive because of the unrestricted connection time and data transfer. However, it is headquartered in the United States, a member of the 5 Eyes intelligence community. This is a major setback if you are concerned with your privacy. Moreover, the VPN hasn’t updated its privacy policy and mobile app on Google Play since 2017.


3. Yoga VPN

Yoga is one of the most insecure VPNs available. This is because the provider wants to collect almost everything from you, including your phone number, ISP network, email address, etc. The problem is that its privacy policy states that the company does not collect any personal information.


How do I use a VPN in South Africa?

VPN for South Africa
(Shutterstock)

If you haven’t used a VPN yet in South Africa, you might wonder why and how to use it there. So, below we give a few examples of how you can benefit from using a VPN when in South Africa and abroad.

Access Netflix US and other international services in South Africa

Use the following steps if you are a foreign expatriate in South Africa and would like to access content in your home country. It will also help you protect your data and maintain your online anonymity:

  1. Navigate through our list above and choose the service that meets your needs. Our top recommendation is NordVPN.
  2. Pick the plan that works for you and create an account.
  3. Download and install the companion app or software for your device.
  4. Now, clear the cache and cookies in your web browsers to remove any saved location identifiers.
  5. Log in to your VPN app.
  6. Connect to a server in the country you want to access content or service from.
  7. Wait for the VPN connection to establish.

At this point, the VPN will exchange your actual IP address with the IP address of the server you have connected to. As a result, you’ll be able to access anything you want in that country, even if it is geo-blocked.


Access South African local content, apps, and services from abroad

On the other hand, a VPN will help you to browse with a South African IP address. This will allow you to access local streaming services, online banking, and more if you have traveled abroad:

  1. Choose a VPN service with servers in South Africa. NordVPN is an excellent option because of its efficiency in acquiring a South African IP address.
  2. Select either the monthly, 6-month or annual package and register.
  3. Get the appropriate app or software for your device and download it.
  4. Delete the cookies and cache on your browsers to eliminate location identifiers.
  5. Restart your device.
  6. Go back to the VPN app and sign in.
  7. Choose a South African server and connect.
  8. Surf the internet as you would normally do.

More reasons to use a VPN in South Africa

As you have seen above, a VPN can be helpful to access international blocked streaming services when in South Africa. Also, you can use it to get locally geo-restricted content.

But that is not all; a VPN is beneficial in many other ways. For example, you can get into your bank account from abroad without getting flagged. Usually, banks will issue a fraud alert if someone signs in from a new location. However, you’ll get a South African IP address when you connect to a server in South Africa. Hence, the bank won’t know that you aren’t within the country.

A VPN can also come in handy to protect your connections when connecting to public WiFi, especially while traveling. In most cases, hackers take advantage of the insecure WiFi hotspots to infiltrate user traffic and steal data. Fortunately, a VPN will encrypt your information, so malicious actors won’t be able to read it.


Conclusion

Internet usage in South Africa is free and not as restrictive as in other countries. However, it is still a nuisance as some sites are inaccessible. Also, local banks will flag your connection if you try to access your account from abroad. The simplest solution to these problems is a virtual private network. By changing your IP address, you’ll be able to access any blocked content or service you want.

In addition, the VPN will protect your data and privacy. That said, we recommend NordVPN because of its advanced security and South African servers. The VPN also allows you to try it risk-free with the 30-day money guarantee.

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About the Author

Ruheni Mathenge

Ruheni Mathenge

Tech researcher and writer with a passion for cybersecurity. Alex is a strong advocate of digital freedom and online privacy. Read More

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