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Armed gang holds up the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Capetown

Armed gang holds up the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Capetown

Aug 15th, 2019, 08:50 AM
  #1  
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Armed gang holds up the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Capetown

https://www.thesouthafrican.com/news...by-armed-gang/

Posting this as we recently stayed at this hotel, the Mount Nelson in Capetown, which was lovely. I chose it partly because I wanted to feel safe; hearing this news story and some other stories from our relatives in Capetown I'm inclined to think travelling there is a bit of a gamble. Yes, there is crime everywhere but not on this level.
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Aug 15th, 2019, 11:50 AM
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I read that story when it came out a month ago. Fortunately no one was hurt. I’ve been to Cape Town three times, never had a bad experience, and will be back for a fourth visit this coming Christmas and New Year. As far as I know, my in-laws who have lived in Cape Town all their lives, have never been involved in that sort of incident.
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Aug 15th, 2019, 12:29 PM
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Well it's a beautiful place Heimdall and I loved it. Just think people should know that is a bit riskier than a lot of other places.
My inlaws are originally from the Cape and still lots of relatives there. My MIL's aunt and her husband were robbed at gunpoint, all their money jewellery etc stolen, from inside a friend's garage while they were in their car waiting for the automatic door to go up. This aunt now lives in a gated community in Somerset West with big walls with electrified razor wire on top and gates and guards that look like something from a border crossing in the old iron curtain days. She feels safe there as she was living for years at a winterized cottage at Kleinmond on her own after her husband died and it was nonstop break ins and thefts and really not safe.
Husband's cousin lives in Constantia in a lovely neighbourhood, 2 people were assaulted while out jogging there last week, they feel these types of problems are getting worse.

It is really sad because it is a spectacular country with so much to offer.
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Aug 15th, 2019, 02:29 PM
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Raincitygirl, it’s not just South Africa where people feel the need for that sort of security around their homes. The first private home I visited in Africa was in Livingstone, Zambia, and they too had a wall topped with electrified razor wire. The black African bishop of an Anglican diocese in Rwanda who invited me to dinner even had a permanent gate guard at his home. Most crime occurs in townships and informal settlements, though, not in well off parts of the city.
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Aug 15th, 2019, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Heimdall View Post
Raincitygirl, itís not just South Africa where people feel the need for that sort of security around their homes. The first private home I visited in Africa was in Livingstone, Zambia, and they too had a wall topped with electrified razor wire. The black African bishop of an Anglican diocese in Rwanda who invited me to dinner even had a permanent gate guard at his home. Most crime occurs in townships and informal settlements, though, not in well off parts of the city.
Oh no doubt Heimdall. I think what we are hearing from our relatives in Capetown though is that more crime is occurring now than before in non township/settlement areas and more crimes against tourists.
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Aug 15th, 2019, 11:31 PM
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Thanks for posting the link. We are n our way to South Africa in October for a couple of months, I have just been looking at places to eat during our last week in Cape Town. The Nelson has been recommended to me for Sunday brunch. Would this put me off? Probably not. But then we are also looking at places to have dinner in the townships. I imagine that is where at least part of the problem, lie - a wide diversity of economic wealth within a small area.

"I'm inclined to think travelling there is a bit of a gamble" - travelling anywhere is a bit of a gamble. Given the regularity of mass shootings in the US and terrorist attacks in London, staying at home is a bit of a gamble too. Perspective is everything these days.

With regard to home security issues, razor wire and barred windows are surely the norm in many, if not most parts of Africa. It certainly was when we lived in West Africa for a time and, for that matter, it is also the norm in most of South America. In the latter, there were armed guards at just about every ATM. Didn’t make me feel any less safe, quite the opposite.

I am really looking forward to Cape and indeed the rest of South Africa so I will be able to judge for myself whether it is really any different form any major city anywhere in the world.
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Aug 16th, 2019, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
Thanks for posting the link. We are n our way to South Africa in October for a couple of months, I have just been looking at places to eat during our last week in Cape Town. The Nelson has been recommended to me for Sunday brunch. Would this put me off? Probably not. But then we are also looking at places to have dinner in the townships. I imagine that is where at least part of the problem, lie - a wide diversity of economic wealth within a small area.

"I'm inclined to think travelling there is a bit of a gamble" - travelling anywhere is a bit of a gamble. Given the regularity of mass shootings in the US and terrorist attacks in London, staying at home is a bit of a gamble too. Perspective is everything these days.

With regard to home security issues, razor wire and barred windows are surely the norm in many, if not most parts of Africa. It certainly was when we lived in West Africa for a time and, for that matter, it is also the norm in most of South America. In the latter, there were armed guards at just about every ATM. Didnít make me feel any less safe, quite the opposite.

I am really looking forward to Cape and indeed the rest of South Africa so I will be able to judge for myself whether it is really any different form any major city anywhere in the world.
I enjoyed it very much but yes, I found it different to the major cities I have been to, and spent time in, including London, Paris, Rome, New York etc etc. I get that there are vast income disparities and all the reasons for that. And I loved staying at the Mount Nelson, you will love brunch there. I just think it is misleading to tell people it is perfectly fine and no different to any other big city in the world and that it's a gamble to travel anywhere or stay home for that matter. The fact is that there is more crime there and lately there has been more crime against tourists. A Ukrainian tourist was stabbed on Table Mountain, a group of tourists hiking in Newlands ravine were assaulted, made to strip and robbed recently. Our young relatives are noticing more and more assaults and there have started to be farmers murdered out on the land. Our old relatives and friends are enjoying life behind all their security (they are too old to move anywhere else) and telling us and each other "well it's not TOO dangerous."

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Aug 16th, 2019, 12:46 PM
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"I just think it is misleading to tell people it is perfectly fine and no different to any other big city in the world" - I suggest that you read again what I actually wrote and you will see that I said nothing of the sort. If you gained that impression then apparently I have not been clear in what I was trying to convey.

My point is that it is all to easy to become alarmist based on a few random events. I haven’t yet visited South Africa and I have yet to form an opinion.

Upon reading of the number or mass shootings in the USA or terrorist attacks in London, or the rise in knife crime, many may well be put off from visiting either place, but in reality, the chances of anything bad happening are minimal and little different from staying at home. As I said, perspective is everything.
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Aug 21st, 2019, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by raincitygirl View Post
Well it's a beautiful place Heimdall and I loved it. Just think people should know that is a bit riskier than a lot of other places.
My inlaws are originally from the Cape and still lots of relatives there. My MIL's aunt and her husband were robbed at gunpoint, all their money jewellery etc stolen, from inside a friend's garage while they were in their car waiting for the automatic door to go up. This aunt now lives in a gated community in Somerset West with big walls with electrified razor wire on top and gates and guards that look like something from a border crossing in the old iron curtain days. She feels safe there as she was living for years at a winterized cottage at Kleinmond on her own after her husband died and it was nonstop break ins and thefts and really not safe.
Husband's cousin lives in Constantia in a lovely neighbourhood, 2 people were assaulted while out jogging there last week, they feel these types of problems are getting worse.

It is really sad because it is a spectacular country with so much to offer.
Capetown and Johannesburg are among the cities of the world with the highest crime rate cities.
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Aug 21st, 2019, 11:49 AM
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Where do you get your statistics, Dianedancer? According to world atlas.com, St. Louis in the US has a higher homicide rate than Cape Town, and Baltimore, New Orleans, and Detroit all have higher homicide rates than the second most dangerous South Africa city, Durban. Johannesburg doesn’t make the top 50 in the world.
https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/...the-world.html
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Aug 21st, 2019, 02:40 PM
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This isn’t good.

We visited Cape Town two years ago and had an amazing time. However, I saw things I have never seen before in visits to 60 plus countries.

Yes, it’s about perceptions but also about facts. The facts are also frequently irrelevant as they cloud reality.

This is where an example like Constantia comes in. We had an incredible meal at a vineyard with crazy beautiful views over.,....the Cape Flats. After the meal, we drove down the hill and passed around 10 supercars worth more than $150,000. At the bottom of the hill we crossed the railway tracks and entered a world which was something more like The Blade Runner. At a risk of getting lost we turned round quickly. The local petrol station had six police cars parked in a circle with the officers in the middle, shotguns drawn. It looked like something out of a Wild West film.

Point being , statistics may indicate the murder rate is X but does that overspill into areas where visitors are staying? Is it safe to stray as a visitor? Is is a reflection of the fact that gangs in the Cape Plains are shooting each to pieces, whilst the rest of Cape Town is no more dangerous than an English country village?

Our close family walked out of an incredible life in Pietermaritzburg around five years ago when the violence spilled over. Their neighbours suffered a break in, the women were raped and all six memebers of the family shot dead. All for the Mercedes on the drive, no negotiation, no discussion, no pleas just executed for a car. Our family members. didn’t sell up, they walked out of South Africa with their suitcases and resettled in Sydney, Australia.

That was was their perception of the way South Africa was heading.

On the the other side of the coin, I’ve never seen as much wealth, style and comfortable living on show as that on Camps Bay, Cape Town.

Last edited by BritishCaicos; Aug 21st, 2019 at 02:44 PM.
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Aug 21st, 2019, 11:54 PM
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I've been to ZA many times, mostly for holiday but also for business in JNB & CPT, stayed 6 weeks. Company would not allow us to go anywhere without a driver, even to go to the office across the road from the hotel, driver had a gun in the glove compartment which he showed me. People in the office told me about their experiences including being held hostage in their home. Have relatives who have lived there for decades (and Zambia for that matter, where they let out guard dogs to protect their house in addition to electrc fences etc), they won't go out at night. My daughter has been several times too and on the flight back sat next to an elder couple, the husband had been shot on the last day of their 3 month stay during a burglary in their rented holiday home.

But I still go and would not hesitate to go again but I am aware of the reputation, I check GPS routes so it doesn't take me through less safe areas (if I happen to know that an area isn't safe otherwise I'm at the mercy of the GPS), have had great holidays there and would not miss the experience, just hope that nothing bad happens (scariest thing that has happened so far is a group of boys sat on the rental car bonnet whilst we were stopped at traffic lights and asked for money, which we didn't give, drove off when lights turned green, they got off the car by that time.)
We pay a man some money to look after the car whenever it's parked, they do come up to you and ask if they can do that, or pay if someone has helped us find a parking space. Tend not to drive at night unless around Camps Bay, Clifton etc. definitely not in JNB, anywhere.

I would not discourage anyone from going but just make them aware that it's not just another place with crime like London or parts of the US, its a different level. It's easy to forget that when nothing happens to you.
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Aug 22nd, 2019, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Dianedancer View Post
Capetown and Johannesburg are among the cities of the world with the highest crime rate cities.
That is very wide ranging and categoric statement. I would be very interested to learn upon which analysis/ surveys/ facts is it based?

I checked out the 2019 Mercer survey of quality of living rankings and, although this is aimed at global employers and quantifies many factors, other safety, Cape Town and Johannesburg ranked 95 and 96th respectively out of 231. Vienna being top and Baghdad 231. London and New York were mid 40s.

There is a lot more to safety than just murder or crime rates.
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Aug 22nd, 2019, 05:17 AM
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Heimdall, well I don't go to Detroit and St. Louis for vacations. Capetown and Johannesburg are THE major cities people go to when in SA. Most tour companies will put their groups up in hotels in the suburbs because of the violence in the cities. These are primo tours which normally put their clients in hotels in the center of cities. So they're not doing this to be cheap.
My friend went to SA for a few days.. She is used to traveling on her own and was going to rent a car. Her SA friend told her not to and practically insisted she get a guide because it was not safe. So she did.
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Aug 22nd, 2019, 07:47 AM
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Well, I'm going to Cape Town again for Christmas this year. I always have a great time with some lovely Capetonians.
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Aug 22nd, 2019, 10:16 AM
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Our highly regarded tour company has put us in the One and Only, bang slap in the center of things. Guess weíll gave to take our chances...
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Aug 22nd, 2019, 11:55 AM
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Five star hotel at the V&A Waterfront. Lucky you!
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Aug 28th, 2019, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
That is very wide ranging and categoric statement. I would be very interested to learn upon which analysis/ surveys/ facts is it based?

I checked out the 2019 Mercer survey of quality of living rankings and, although this is aimed at global employers and quantifies many factors, other safety, Cape Town and Johannesburg ranked 95 and 96th respectively out of 231. Vienna being top and Baghdad 231. London and New York were mid 40s.

There is a lot more to safety than just murder or crime rates.
Just go & you will not need more proof. But here's a recent BBC article South Africa deploys army to gang-hit Cape Town "At least 13 people were killed in 24 hours last weekend in one of the violence-hit parts of the city." The massive income & land disparity in SA will boil over. It is a matter of time imho. We have been to SA three times & loved it. But I feel much safer in Kruger driving around than I do in the Cape.

Ian

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Aug 31st, 2019, 12:33 PM
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"Just go & you will not need more proof." not entirely sure what that is supposed to mean. Anyway, please correct me if I am wrong, but that article you linked relates to violence in the townships where I think few tourists will venture ( although I am tempted myself)

Of course I do take safety issues very seriouslyMy wife and I have travelled the world more or less continually since 2008 when we spent time on a volunteer projects in Sierra Leone. The safety situation there was bad but not as horrendous as the press would have one believe and our extensive pre departure training covered most eventualities. Since then we have travelled, amongst other places to south and Central America and read dire warnings of how Mexico and Colombia, to give but two examples, of how horrendously dangerous those to places were. If we had taken heed of those we never would have gone. The reality on the ground was that we had no problems whatsoever (apart from the lunatic drivers in Colombia). the people were friendly, helpful and we didn’t feel in the least threatened or unsafe anywhere in the many months we spent traveling those countries.

My point, in my post above, is that the poster concerned had made these blanket statements that Cape Town was inherently unsafe, based on hearsay and the comments of friends of friends, rather than any first hand evidence or experience to support those comments.

Personally, I would only ever make such comments based on my own experiences and even then, give consideration to the damage that may be cause to a country’s tourism industry.

I would be genuinely interested to hear of any first hand experiences of problems in Cape Town or elsewhere in the country, if only to help me consider which areas to avoid.
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Sep 12th, 2019, 11:02 PM
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The level of paranoia is quite a bit higher in Cape Town, among residents and service providers. There is still a visible legacy from the apartheid years, and often crime incidents are violent and well-publicized. More than simple burglaries or purse-snatches that you might have been warned about in South America. Often you hear about guns, carjacks and home invasions. So the locals are cautious about where they park and hike. You can read all about the problems on Table Mountain on Tripadvisor, for example.

I found that many of the small places in marginal areas, i.e. not Camps Bay or the mostly white suburbs, would want you checked in by 6pm. There are multiple cautions about "no-go" zones and how to manage going out after dark. Probably the most difficult thing for a nonresident driving is having Google Maps send you through areas that locals would recommend against.. so do get written directions and paper maps while having the car in Cape Town. Many people use Uber which is a good option. One of the nice things about using Airbnbs or having local contacts, is getting advice on where to eat and driving routings.

That said, the only disturbing incident I had was a particularly aggressive beggar near the entrance to Company's Gardens.

Last edited by mlgb; Sep 12th, 2019 at 11:05 PM.
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