SA safety (CapeTown/Garden Route)

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May 24th, 2004, 06:53 AM
  #1
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SA safety (CapeTown/Garden Route)

My husband was told by a native JNB'er that we should not travel to SA unless we went with a group for safety.

I doubt we could get up a group of folks to travel when we want to go and for how long and willing to spend the $! 12-14 days including travel time.

I plan to spend a few days in Cape Town and then make our way to the point, shark "dive", Hermanus and head over to Schotia and Addo parks then quick return to Cape Town to fly home.

I never wear my good/flashy jewelry on vacation and we rent basic cars so nothing showy. Same thing goes for dress --jeans/tshirt type folks or shorts when the weather calls for it. Casual but not sloppy.

What would be the best thing to say/do to ease his mind? We are using FF with Lufthansa to get to SA and would need to book next month for May 05.
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May 24th, 2004, 10:10 AM
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Alise
You really do not have to worry about the crime in South Africa as you will not at all be exposed to the areas where crime is. Would you venture into Brooklyn at night or any other poor area anywhere in the world. You will be perfectly safe provided you do it correctly.
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May 24th, 2004, 11:04 AM
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I agree with ILoveAfrica. We recently toured the Western Cape in a rental car and never felt unsafe. Just use common sense and you'll be OK.
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May 24th, 2004, 01:00 PM
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sandi
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Sherise -

>>Would you venture into Brooklyn at night or any other poor area<<

You did just what alise's husband's JNB'er friend did - put an entire boro in NYC into the same category of the entire country of SA being crime ridden.

While I do not live in Brooklyn though was born there, I dare say that there are places that neither of us could afford to live "in Brooklyn." Crime is so low in NYC these days it's one of the safest places to visit in the US.

alise - what it comes down to is that crime exists everywhere around the world, and an incident in an area around/near JNB doesn't place the entire country in that category, than it would anywhere else.

There have been many posts on this board inquiring about safety in SA, whether JNB or CPT or elsewhere and the responses have been as I stated above.

You do not have to travel with a group unless you choose to join a tour (you don't have to gather a group of friends). That said, you will find most who have been to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt and on and on, have traveled independently and quite safely.

On my first trip to Africa (Kenya) I left all my good jewelry at home (the first time I ever have), and the same with clothing. Well, that was the last time I did that, inasmuch as I've always worn whatever jewelry I normally wear, wherever I've traveled. At no time while in Kenya, which also has a "crime problem" especially in Nairobi, were we fearful in any way. On all subsequent trips to Africa, my jewelry and whatever clothing I choose to wear came with me - no different than if I were going to Paris, London, or Brooklyn, NY.

You can arrange for an independent trip to SA, with stops in CPT, maybe a drive alone the Garden Rt, or to Durban, and for safari in the Kruger area or other areas, a side-trip to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe or into Chobe Botswana and have no worry.

We too upon arriving in CPT at night, were picked-up the next morning for the drive to Gaansbai for diving with the Great Whites; it was a fantastic day. The next few days were spent with a guide & driver in the winelands, Cape Point, Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Gardens, and other sites. We felt perfectly safe and as far as I'm concerned CPT is a "keeper" for a city - one of the best anywhere.

And the remainder of our trip which took us to Vic Falls and Botswana and Kruger for safari was just as wonderful and perfectly safe.

As a New Yorker, even in those days when we weren't the safest city in the States, I would never tell anyone not to visit. Visiting anyplace means being aware of where you are, where you are going, when, how, etc. Safety precautions have to be used everywhere and that is no different for travel to SA.

Book your trip. You'll have a great time and wonderful experiences.

 
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May 24th, 2004, 01:12 PM
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As far as safety is concerned I wont deny that crime does take place in Cape Town or for that matter SA, or for that matter all over the world. With that said lets put this all into actual number perspective. Carjacking is supposed to be a huge problem in SA. There are 3 carjackings a day in Cape Town according to official reports. I have no idea as to how many cars are travelling on Cape Town roads daily however as we have a population of 4.5 million in the city I can only guess that probably 1.5 million cars are owned by people in our town. I would assume that one third of them go out on the roads daily so out of 500,000 cars with 3 being carjacked daily this in essence means that .00000006% of the Cape Town car population falls into a "daily hijacked" percentage. With that said the reality of the situation is that I reckon you are safer in a car in Cape Town than crossing the road in your own city of stay. If its going to happen, its going to happen no matter what the incident be it a Cape Town carjacking or a major city of the world road crossing. In simple language the carjacking as well as safety factor story in Cape Town is an absolute media frenzy. I can assure you of this. I have travelled all over the world and spent amongst others much time in Europe, America, Asia and Australia. Without trying to tell you how scared I was in certain cities of the USA as an example relative to Cape Town let me tell you a true story that happened to my own brother in law whom I will simply call John. He and his family now reside in Perth, Australia and have done so for 15 years. John is Cape Town born and because of business reasons, straight after school and being married to my sister in law the family (2 daughters) moved to Johannesburg. They stayed in Johannesburg for close onto 10 years and even though John had a phenomenal job they feared for their lives on a daily basis as the news of crime in the city spread far and wide. They NEVER EVER had a personal skirmish with crime in Johannesburg in all their years of living in the city or South Africa and none of their friends were affected in any way either, yet the media portrayed the city to be the worst in the world crime wise. So guess what, on the strength of the frenzy in the town and media reports they decided to pack up and go to the Perth, Australia. I want to stress that they had no formal practical crime event in their lives to drive them to do this, they simply were scared by what the media frenzy evoked in them. I am telling you this because you speak of a native Johannesburger advising you; well John was effectively a native Johannesburger too.

They moved into Perth and as John was relatively well off he had all the time in the world to decide on what to do in Perth job wise. After staying in Perth for 4 months he decided to open a stationary corner store where supposedly lotto ticket sales were huge and kept the store alive making it quite a successful venture. All went well for the first 4 months in the store. One evening while closing the store two young men walked into the store and held John up at gunpoint, stealing all the stores takings for what was supposedly drug money while making very threatening advances to want to shoot him. John was scared witless and immediately put his business up for sale and sold it 1 month later. So does this true event mean that I, you or others should never walk into a stationary store in Perth, let alone Johannesburg, Cape Town or on the Garden Route for fear of being involved in a gunpoint heist? I swear this is a 100% true story with John and his family leaving Johannesburg and South Africa while they never ever had been affected by crime yet they were scared of it because of the media frenzy. All that they found when leaving SA was a real crime event in a new city and country that they reckoned was amongst the safest in the world when moving to it! Btw till today John, as a native Johannesburger, says that you should never walk alone anywhere in SA which knocks me over as his real life experience has been the exact opposite.

After that huge diatribe please let me set your mind at 100% ease about your coming to Cape Town and driving on the roads of our city or the Garden Route as it would be safer for this to happen than you walking into a stationary store in your own town and the chances of your being hijacked or attacked are as already said .00000006%.
I travel the exact route that you intend travelling next year. I do this journey close on to 20 times a year as a tourguide/operator and have been doing this for 6 years. The only smell of crime that I have ever had over this period was a couple of speeding fines. In Knysna which is the heart of the Garden Route the guesthouse that I generally stay at does not use keys and leave their doors wide open 24 hours a day. They have been doing this for the past 8 years since their starting up as a guesthouse. They have never ever experienced crime under these circumstances and btw they are pretty centrally placed in the town.

You should also ask yourself if you trust international companies on a financial basis like AVIS, Hertz, Budget Rent a car etc. If your response is "yes" then ask yourself how come these companies are happy to take the financial risk of putting so many of their cars on the roads of a city or a Garden Route that is so supposedly fraught with carjacking like Cape Town or SA? Makes one think does it not?

With all of the above said ask yourself after looking at the statistics that I have mentioned in this mail what would be safer, your driving in a car in Cape Town or your crossing the road in your own city wherever that may be? In finality you are 99.00000004% safe (100% - .00000006%) of anything happening to you while driving on SA roads or doing anything in Cape Town and the Garden Route. I reckon those are not bad odds so I suggest that you ignore a media frenzy and your native Johannesburger friends phobia so that you happily and joyfully can enjoy your holidaying in SA with your husband. Enough said and I rest my case.

Hope this helps you overall in your thought process.


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May 24th, 2004, 10:32 PM
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Hey Sandi - Maybe ILoveAfrica meant Brooklyn, Pretoria :-> !?! And even if not, I am not going to be cancelling my plans to visit NYC later in the year.
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May 25th, 2004, 03:26 AM
  #7
sandi
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traci -

Good point. The other day here in NYC (USA) there was an bulletin on TV of a lost child in the Baltimore, Maryland area who had been dropped by her father with a stranger saying he'd be back. Sure enough the father didn't show. When the Dept of Child Welfare got the child all she knew was her name, and that she lived in Brooklyn.

After a few days, still no one could identify the child. In the back of my mind, I thought maybe she came from Brooklyn, Minnesota (not the Brooklyn NYC as most people would have assumed as did I), but didn't give it any more thought. Eventually, someone came forward - her grandfather saw the picture and reported this to the DCW.

Well, as it turned out she didn't live "in" Brooklyn, but "on" Brooklyn Street or Avenue in the Baltimore area.

So I guess Brooklyn gets around all around the world! That was good for a laugh, so thanks for bringing Brooklyn Pretoria to my attention.
 
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May 25th, 2004, 04:09 AM
  #8
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Hi Alise! My hub and I rented a car and drove around Cape Town and the Garden Route for 2 weeks in Feb. We loved it and had no problems. It didn't feel much different than driving around California for example.
 
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May 25th, 2004, 06:33 AM
  #9
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I feel perfectly safe...but then again I am a fairly fearless person.

Hubby is much more restrained and cautious! I guess someone has to balance me out.

I tend to use common sense when I travel---even at home in Pittsburgh--where crime is a nightly news event.

I don't know if it is more concern over being American?? Or just general fear on his part?

We carry a big ROOTS backpack with a Canadian flag on it and hope people think we are Canadian ;-) Hubby spent 2 yrs travelling to Germany and always got comments about being American and how our President/Govt thinks they can just do whatever they want etc...and we don't want to be lumped in with the acts of our govt but a stranger doesn't know what I believe they just see American.

SO when that JNB'er told my hubby it wasn't safe (while he was in Germany) to travel "alone" to SA he took it very seriously.

I have never felt that way about SA...other places in Africa at this point in time- YES but not SA.

And no, I don't walk down dark alleys at night!

thanks for all of your replies--now I hope I can convince him b/c we need to book the FF miles next month!!!!
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May 25th, 2004, 07:10 AM
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Alise, South Africans don't have issues about the American government the way that citizens of some countries do.

I think your husband is conflating two very different issues, namely, the resentment towards the American government that exists in some countries and the high (but not politically motivated) crime rates in some countries.

As I said before, South Africans don't have "issues" with the United States. I think the point of the Canadian flag on your backpack will be lost on South Africans, because I don't expect they'll give a rat's *** whether you're American or Canadian.

It's true that South Africa has a high crime rate, but the incidence of crime tends to be heavily concentrated in certain pockets. The Garden Route, which you would traverse to get from Cape Town to Addo, is one of the safer parts of South Africa, as previous posters have pointed out. There are high crime areas of Cape Town, but the areas in which tourists typically stay are pleasant and safe.

Before we travel (whether it's to the U.S., Europe, South Africa or Australia) we make photocopies of the important documents we'll take with us (photo page of passport, driver's licence, health insurance card, credit cards, debit cards, itinerary). We leave one set of photocopies with a trusted family member or friend at home and take one set of photocpies with us, but store it separately from our important documents.

This trick was a great help to a Canadian acquaintance of ours who had his passport stolen in India. His wife in Calgary was able to fax the photocopy of his passport to the Canadian consulate in the Indian city in which he was staying, and that expedited the issuing of a replacement passport.

But, as I said, we take this precaution regardless of the crime rate in our destination country, because any number of potential accidents, and not just crime, could lead to the loss of important documents. After all, I lost my debit card right here in Calgary a couple of months ago, and had to have it replaced.
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May 25th, 2004, 08:26 AM
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Hi All
OOOpps, looks like I made a bit of a Boooo Boooo. What I meant in my reference to another city was Harlem and NOT Brooklyn. Apologies. Basically I just wanted to let folks know that South Africa IS safe. We just won the bid for the 2010 Soccer World Cup and if we were'nt a safe nation I doubt we would have won.
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May 25th, 2004, 11:12 PM
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Well, that's also not a perfect example. Harlem is where former president Bill Clinton set up his suite of offices. The area is proud of its gentrification there. I don't know what the crime rate is today.

When we went to Cape Town our hotel driver would warn us about certain areas. He took us to the Indian restaurant and told us to wait inside when he came to pick us up. We wouldn't have known that, it looked fine. Cities are different and of course different sections of the city are different. In London, we could walk from the theatre district to our hotel at 11 at night and not worry. I think it is naive to believe all cities are the same. You can walk the streets of Toyko at 1 AM and not have a problem - the crime rate is extremely low.
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May 25th, 2004, 11:19 PM
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Ah, so if that "native JNB'er" made that comment in Germany, does that mean that perhaps he/she no longer lives in S.A.?

I did wonder when I saw your OP, because my experience is that the vast majority of such comments come from those who have left the country.
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May 26th, 2004, 12:54 AM
  #14
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I agree with the comment that most South Africans don't care if you're American or Canadian. In Namibia and South Africa, we were warmly received, even when they found out we're American.
 
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May 26th, 2004, 05:40 AM
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Sherise - you did it again!

>>What I meant in my reference to another city was Harlem and NOT Brooklyn<<

or as we say "open mouth put foot in"

- and realize that the reference to Harlem can also be in The Netherlands. All in good fun. But I think it is indicative of how many of us have heard or seen or read something about a specific place and whether it's positive or negative, it stays with us.

As Clematis stated - Harlem has been very much gentrified, the former President has his offices on the main steet that runs thru Harlem; it is one the most requested tour of visitors to New York select; great restaurants abound; one can find as many white people on the streets of Harlem as local inhabitants. And not only on the streets - many whites have bought (at great expense) town houses in the area and everyone seems to "get along." Though at issue is that with real estate prices skyrocketing, many long time residents are being pushed out.

It seems that "what goes around, comes around." It wouldn't come as a surprise to many living in New York that years from now, Harlem will have reverted to a hi-rent community with as many, if not more, white residents. And to think that I had the opportunity to purchase a building in Harlem back about 20-years ago and didn't. Dumb? So you never know!
 
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May 26th, 2004, 03:04 PM
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Ouch, Sandi, that must hurt... but I also let go of some prime real estate years ago.
Anyway, you have to do the trip at your level of comfort, alise. You don't have to go with a group, you can go alone and book day tours. Some of the guidebooks give you specific information about different areas of town, which makes sense. It's worth it to check those out when you're spending so much on a trip. We always do that, in combination with asking people here.
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Jun 16th, 2004, 12:21 PM
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I've been about 10 times to S.A, and ofcourse there have been some moments I felt a bit unsafe but generally it's safe. Most of the people in S.A. are friendly. And the country is stunning so all together: just go, you'll enjoy it!
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Jun 19th, 2004, 07:40 AM
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I've been to South Africa many times (just back from my 11th or 12th trip there, as a matter of fact.) The majority of the crime in SA is residential burglary, hijacking of expensive cars, and gangs committing mayhem on each other. None of this will affect you, the tourist. South Africans are warm, hospitable people, who love Americans, and welcome all foreign visitors with open arms.

You certainly don't need to hide your nationality to avoid being a crime victim! The idea that you would be in jeopardy in SA because you're an American is so far off the mark that I don't even know how to respond to it!
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Jun 22nd, 2004, 01:18 PM
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Hi Alise,

We've just returned from our first visit to SA.
Our itinerary was very similar to the one you are planning although, being on the wrong side of sixty, we skipped the shark "dive"!

It is a breathtakingly beautiful country with a well organised tourist industry and the people we met were without exception, curteous,friendly, helpful and welcoming.
At no time did we feel concerned about our safety (or our belongings).

Did your husband's "native JNB'er" contact not mention specific safety concerns?
It might be easier to adress your husband's worries if they were less general than they appeared in your original message.

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Jul 2nd, 2004, 03:39 PM
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We also just returned from Africa and our itinerary included 17 days self drive in Cape Town, winelands and garden route.

Didn't feel unsafe for a moment and found driving in this region an absolute pleasure.
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