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Search Trends: What kept South Africans curious in March

In a month that brought us a cabinet reshuffle,  protests, a Hollywood-style prison break and the deaths of two high profile musicians, South Africans looking to make sense of the world, turned to Google to find out more. Google Search data shows exactly what kept them curious this month.

Earlier this year, Google announced that “artificial intelligence” was searched more than ever in 2022 and that interest is not subsiding with the top searched question in March relating to AI.

International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8 March was the second most searched term this month. Google celebrated the day with a special doodle, and announced 16 African, women-led startups would take part in the Google for Startups Accelerator programme.

South Africans also searched for more information on Human Rights Day, celebrated on 21 March and Saint Patrick’s Day.

As more South Africans feel the pinch of the global economic downturn, they have looked to Google for answers to some serious questions including  “what is inflation?” and “what is the most direct way to alleviate poverty in South Africa?”.

Continuing the trend of serious questions, South Africans continue to grapple with climate change and “What is climate change?” ranked as the sixth trending question in March.

Thabo Bester, who became known as the Facebook Rapist back in 2011 features in both the top trending questions, and terms list. South Africans have been gripped by revelations that he faked his own death to escape from prison and is currently on the run.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his new cabinet earlier this month, South Africans turned to Google to find out who the newly appointed Minister of Electricity was. Kgosientsho Ramokgopa stepped into the brand new cabinet post on March 6th.

South Africans also mourned the deaths of beloved musicians, rapper Costa Titch, who died on 11 March after collapsing on stage, and Jazz great, Gloria Bosman who died on 14 March after a short illness. Both feature in the top 10 trending search terms for the month.

South Africans also used Google to find out more about Riana Pretorius, who was abducted in Gqeberha on March 16 2023 and who was found safe after an eight day search.

Only one sports search made it into this month’s search trends- West Indies vs South Africa. The tour ran throughout the month of March, featuring tests, One Day Internationals (ODIs) and T20 matches.

Top searched questions 

Top searched terms 

  1. What is Chatgpt?

  2. Who is Thabo Bester?

  3. Who is the Minister of finance?

  4. Who is Nhlanhla Lux?

  5. What is the most direct way to alleviate poverty in South Africa?

  6. What is climate change?

  7. Who is the minister of electricity?

  8. What is inflation?

  9. What is human rights day?

  1. Costa Titch

  2. International women’s day

  3. National shutdown

  4. Thabo Bester

  5. West Indies vs South Africa

  6. Nhlanhla Lux

  7. Gloria Bosman

  8. Riana Pretorius

  9. Katlego Danke

  10. Terry Pheto



Search trends information is gathered from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. ‘Top searches’ indicate searches that topped Google’s charts while ‘Most searched’ queries are the most popular terms for the past 15 years, ranked in order by volume of searches. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40 

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