What South African phone numbers reveal about networks and locations

Phone numbers in South Africa include useful information such as the source location of a call or to which mobile network a phone number is subscribed.

South Africa’s telecoms numbers are assigned to telecoms licencees according to ICASA’s National Numbering Plan Regulations of 2016.

With the exception of short codes and machine-related numbers, like those used in point-of-sale (POS) devices, telecoms numbers in South Africa contain 10 digits.

These numbers are divided into two main categories – geographic and non-geographic.

Fixed services – such as copper telephone lines – are allocated with geographic numbers, with the three first digits starting between 010 and 058.

These numbers indicates the geographic location of the phone line.

For example, the 011 number is designated for telephone numbers located in the Greater Johannesburg region, while 021 is for the Cape Town metro and surrounding towns.

The table below shows the geographic numbers for different regions in South Africa.

Telephone numbers – Geographic
Starting number General area Prominent towns and cities
01 – Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West
010 Greater Johannesburg region Johannesburg, Krugersdorp, Boksburg, Midrand
011
012 Tshwane region Pretoria, Brits
013 Northern and western Mpumalanga Middelburg, Witbank, Nelspruit
014 Northern North West and Southwestern Limpopo Rustenburg, Modimolle
015 Northern and Eastern Limpopo Polokwane
016 Vaal Triangle Vereeniging, Vanderbiljpark, Sasolburg
017 Southern Mpumalanga Ermelo
018 Southern North West Lichtenburg, Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp
02 – Western and Northern Cape
021 Cape Town metropole and surrounds Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Somerset West, Gordon’s Bay
022 Boland and West Coast Malmesbury
023 Karoo Worcester, Beaufort West
027 Namaqualand Vredendal, Calvinia, Clanwilliam, Springbok, Alexander Bay
028 Southern coast of Western Cape Swellendam, Caledon, Hermanus
03 – KwaZulu-Natal
031 Durban region Durban
032 KwaZulu-Natal central coast Stanger
033 KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Pietermaritzburg
034 Northern KwaZulu-Natal Vryheid, Newcastle
035 Zululand St. Lucia and Richard’s Bay
036 Drakensberg Ladysmith
039 Easter Pondoland and southern coast of KwaZulu-Natal Port Shepstone
04 – Eastern Cape and eastern parts of Western Cape
040 Bhisho region
041 Port Elizabeth region Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage
042 Southern and central parts of Eastern Cape Humansdorp
043 East London region East London
044 Garden Route Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Mossel Bay, George
045 Northern and eastern parts of Eastern Cape Queenstown
046 Southern and easter parts of Eastern Cape Grahamstown
047 Eastern part of Eastern Cape Mthatha
048 Northern part of Eastern Cape Steynsburg
049 Western part of Eastern Cape Graaff-Reinet
04 – Free State and Northern Cape 
051 Southern and central parts of Free State and far eastern part of Eastern Cape Bloemfontein, Aliwal North
053 Eastern part of Northern Cape Kimberley
054 Gordonia Upington
056 Northern part of Free State Kroonstad
057 Free State Goldfields Welkom
058 Eastern part of Free State Bethlehem

Non-geographic numbers are used for cellular services and other numbers typically used by companies and government.

These run from 060 to 099, and may be for mobile services, toll-free services, VoIP services, mass calling services, machine-related services, or premium rated services.

The 060 to 084 numbers are used by mobile network operators and mobile virtual network operators.

Each of these networks have set ranges within which they are allocated phone numbers. These number ranges provide them with millions of numbers to assign to customers.

MTN, for example, is currently assigned 55 million numbers to service its 32 million subscribers.

Numbers starting with 072 and 082 are designated for Vodacom, 073 and 083 are for MTN, and 074 and 084 are for Cell C.

The remaining allocation – and in particular those starting with 06 – are more complex.

For example, while Cell C gets numbers starting between 0610 and 0613, Telkom numbers can start with 0614.

The table below shows which mobile number ranges are allocated to each mobile network operator.

Mobile numbers – Non-geographic
Starting number Location
06 numbers
0603 – 0605 MTN
0606 – 0609 Vodacom
0610 – 0613 Cell C
0614 Telkom
0615 – 0619 Cell C
063 – 0635 MTN
0636 – 0637 Vodacom
0640 MTN
0641- 0645 Cell C
0646-  0649 Vodacom
0650 – 0653 Cell C
0654 Lycamobile (Cell C roaming)
0655 – 0657 MTN
0658 – 0659 Telkom
0660 – 0665 Vodacom
0670 – 0672 Telkom
0673 – 0675 Vodacom
0676 – 0679 Telkom
0680 – 0685 Telkom
069 MTN
07 numbers
0710 MTN
0711 – 0716 Vodacom
0717 – 0719 MTN
072 Vodacom
073 MTN
074 Cell C
0741 Virgin Mobile
076 Vodacom
078 MTN
079 Vodacom
08 numbers
0810 MTN
0811 – 0815 Telkom
0817 Telkom
0818 Vodacom
082 Vodacom
083 MTN
0839 Telkom
084 Cell C

Number porting

Figuring out from which network a mobile number could be is more difficult than simply considering these prefixes, however.

Mobile customers have the option of porting to other networks, while keeping their number.

This means a number which was originally assigned within the ranges of Vodacom may now belong to an MTN customer, or vice-versa.

However, other non-geographic numbers, such as toll-free, shared-cost, premium rate and general voice services numbers starting with 0800, 0860, 0861, 0862, 087 are not currently portable.

This means that companies with one of these numbers would have to change them when they switch service provider.

ICASA in 2018 published new number portability regulations that provide for the porting of these non-geographic numbers.

Multiple mobile operators – including Vodacom, MTN, Cell C – told MyBroadband they supported this initiative, while Telkom said it would adhere by the new rules.

Other non-geographic numbers

The table below shows the other non-geographic numbers which are not used for general mobile services to everyday users, but typically used by companies.

Other non-geographic numbers
Starting number Location
08 numbers
0800 Toll-free services
086 Inbound services
087 VoIP services
089 Mass calling services
090 Premium rate services
09 numbers
090 Premium rate services
091 Premium rate services
092 Premium rate services
096 Machine-related services
097 Machine-related services
098 Machine-related services

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What South African phone numbers reveal about networks and locations