South Africa has a well-developed communications infrastructure, with extensive landline phone networks and four mobile phone service providers - Cell C, MTN, Vodacom and Virgin Mobile - with far-reaching coverage.


Landline services are operated by Telkom SA Ltd, with a second operator, Neotel, currently in the process of setting up shop. Telkom public telephones use coins, phonecards or Worldcall. Phonecards and Worldcall can be purchased at most retail stores, petrol stations, post offices and airports.


You can rent mobile phones - we call them cellphones - from the airport on arrival. You should find an internet café in even the smallest towns, and the postal service works, offering the usual letter and parcel services as well as securemail, freight and courier services.



If you're dialling a number in South Africa, it must be preceded by:

  • +27, South Africa's international country code (the + sign represents the international access code for the country you're calling from); and either:

    • The area code of the city or town in South Africa you're calling (leaving out the first zero), if you're calling a landline; or
    • The cellular/mobile network code (leaving out the first zero), if you're calling a cellular/mobile network.

So, for example, to phone South African Airways' call centre from abroad, you'd dial +27 11 978 5313 (Johannesburg's area code is 011 - phoning from abroad, you leave out the zero).


What's the time in South Africa?
Go to Google and search "time south africa".

If it were a mobile number, you might start dialling +27 82 ... (082 is the code for one of our main mobile networks - phoning from abroad, you leave out the zero).


Dialling codes in South Africa
The area codes of some of South Africa's major cities are: Bloemfontein 051, Cape Town 021, Durban 031, East London 043, Johannesburg 011, Pretoria 012, and Port Elizabeth 041. For the rest, consult Telkom's Dialling codes in South Africa.



To make an international call from South Africa, dial 00, followed by the country code of the country you wish to call, followed by the relevant area code (if there is one), followed by the phone number.


What's my country's dialling code?
One of the quickest ways to find out is to dial Telkom's 24-hour international customer care centre - 10903 - and ask. The service is free. Alternatively, go toGoogle and type in "dialling code [your country]".


Operator-assisted dialling
Telkom's international call centre - 10903 - offers 24-hour assistance to anyone wanting to make international calls or send faxes, along with general international directory information.


What's the time back home?
Go to Google and search "time [name of your home country]".

Home Direct
Telkom's Home Direct service allows you to call an operator in your home country free of charge, either to place a call on your "phone home" account, if you have one, or to arrange a reverse-charge call. Telkom's Phone Book lists all available country-specific Home Direct numbers in its international dialling code list. Alternatively, phone Telkom's international customer care centre at 10903.


Public phones for tourists
Telkom has placed public telephones at major tourist sites across South Africa. Coin-operated phones are blue, while cardphones are green, and both are user-friendly and compatible with hearing aid devices. They offer a reliable connection, high quality of speech, and are affordable.


Phonecards and Worldcall
Telkom's Phonecards and Worldcall are available at major outlets where the Telkom logo is displayed.



If you're in South Africa and phoning a landline - whether you're phoning from a landline or a mobile phone - the number must be preceded by the area code (including the first zero) for the city or town you're phoning.


If, on the other hand, you're phoning to a mobile number, you never use an area code, only the appropriate mobile network code.



Many businesses and organisations have special landline numbers beginning with an 08 code - 0800, 0860, 0861, and so on. (But not 082, 083 or 084, which belong to the mobile networks.) These are, in effect, national numbers - area codes are dispensed with, and callers dial the same number regardless of where they are. Note that these lines can only be accessed from within South Africa.


  • 080 numbers (usually 0800) - no charge to the caller.
  • 0860 numbers - the caller does not pay for any long-distance portion of the call.
  • 0861 numbers - the caller is charged a flat rate for the call.


For landline numbers in South Africa, Consult Telkom's phone directories. The print versions are published and millions of copies distributed free of charge every year - you'll find them in airports, hotels, offices, homes and public phone booths just about everywhere.


The online versions are at:

Alternatively, dial Telkom's telephonic directories:

  • International - 10903
  • Directory Services (Phone Book) - 1023
  • Talking Yellow Pages - 10118
  • Mobile Yellow Pages - SMS what you're looking for and where (eg "flowers cape town") to 34310.

Last updated: June 2009

SAinfo reporter



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