Safety in SA

Jun 21st, 2001, 08:16 AM
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Safety in SA

I am interested in going to SA around the end of August with my friend, father and step-mom. However, I am curious about how safe it is in the country. I have seen on some internet sites detailed information about car hijackings, rapes, and general violence. I have heard stories about armed guards within nice hotels becuase of random acts of violence. Is this information true? If so, would you still recommend going? What procautions would you take? any information is appreciated!
Jun 21st, 2001, 10:31 AM
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Well, Ali, I hope SA is reasonably safe, at least where we'll be, because we're off to SA in October. I suggest you research the SA posting a bit ... safety has been a hot issue for the past year, so you'll find some safety postings. I cannot imagine not going to SA over some safety thing ... obviously there are areas you do not visit, but I assume you already know about these. Ciao.
Jun 22nd, 2001, 04:50 AM
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Hi Ali

Although one can not ignore the safety risks here, you must also remember that the news media most of the times publish the "saucy" parts of a story. Many people that come here are paranoic about their safety just to find out that it is not that bad at all!! It is of course good to be vigilant but not to the extend that it would ruin your holiday. The following pointers copied from another site should help:

At the hotel:

Never leave your luggage unattended.
Store valuables in the hotelís safety deposit box.
Keep you room locked, whether youíre in it or out.
If someone knocks, check who it is before opening the door.
Hand the keys in at the desk whenever you leave the hotel.

In the street:

Avoid ostentatious displays of expensive jewellery, cameras and other valuables.
Itís definitely not advisable to carry large sums of money around.
At night, steer clear of dark, isolated areas.
Itís better to explore in groups and to stick to well-lit, busy streets.
Plan your route beforehand.
A policeman or traffic officer will be glad to direct you if you get lost.
If you want to call a taxi, your hotel or the nearest tourism information office can recommend a reliable service.

In the car:

Plan your route in advance.
Keep the car doors locked at all times and wind the windows up.
Lock valuable items in the boot (trunk).
At night, park in will-lit areas.
Never pick up strangers.
If in doubt about the safety of an area, phone a police station for advice.

(If I read all of this, I would be also be worried, but rather safe than sorry.)

If I read some postings about safety in the States I would also be anxious to go there. On another travel site there was an extensive discussion some time ago about safety in Spain and if we had to be lead by that we would never have gone.

So, please, come and visit a stunning country!

Ps: The weather is OK in August (sometimes windy) but very good in October.
Jul 9th, 2001, 02:09 AM
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well, Iīm sorry to put you on alert, but the news that we get here in europe is that SA is extremely dangerous in some cities like johanesburg. Crime rate is extremely high, and is often compared with Beirut during the war.
Not only that, but also crime is very violent.
I recommend you a full alert.
About locations outside cities, the news we have is that things are much more safer.
For all this, and for your safe AVOID dangerous areas
Jul 11th, 2001, 02:54 PM
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My mother was in SA last August, and they really spent no time in Jo'burg--doesn't sound like there's much to see there relative to other parts of the country anyway--but their info re crime and safety problems seemed mostly geared to Jo'burg (and I've heard first-hand from people about armed guards at hotels telling them not to go out alone). OTOH, my folks felt fine re safety in Cape Town and Durban. Based on their photos and stories, it's a beautiful place to visit.
Jul 18th, 2001, 03:34 PM
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Very scary but Dateline NBC just did a story last night on the high occurrence of rapes in SA. They mentioned that 1 in 3 of all women living there will be raped. I found that difficult to stomach and it made me think of the potential safety issues related to traveling there. Could anyone bring further light into the veracity of this story?
Jul 20th, 2001, 06:00 PM
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A friend of mine saw the same report on rape in SA. Knowing I will be traveling to Cape Town alone next month, she suggested placing a call to the consulate in Cape Town, which I did. They were very helpful, and said that, while there is a very high incidence of crime, it is confined to specific outlying areas (where you probably won't want to visit, anyway). The populated, city center should be fine, especially if you're in a group. They did strongly warn me against walking alone at night, or using the train systems, particularly to outlying regions. The underlying message (this from a single American woman living in Cape Town) was: if you use good judgement and are as cautious as you would in *any* big city, you should have no problem. I did not ask about Johannesburg, as I will be with others who know the place well.
Jul 21st, 2001, 07:44 PM
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I returned 2 weeks ago from my solar eclipse trip in Southern Africa. I, and everyone I talked to in my group of 32 people, loved all three countries we had visted, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

After the eclipse on 6/21 in Zambia, I left my group in Johanesburg and spent 4 more days alone in Cape Town.

I(we) flew in/out Johanesburg three times but I didn't go to the city's downtown area. The main reason is that there is really not much to see. Yes everyone including the locals says the city is very dangeous and hijacking is the most serious problem. I don't have first hand experience with downtown JB so my advice is to simply skip that city from your itinerary. Stay at the JB airport hotels. The airport area is pretty safe.

Cape Town is a different story. I staied in Holiday Inn hotel in a place called Green Market Square at the city center. It is not safe in the evening in the city center area. I was almost running into trouble the second evening when I was walking around the neiboring street alone. So my advice is to stay in hotels in the water front area, or use taxi to be in and out your hotel after dark if you choose to stay in city center. During daytime, every place is perfectly fine.

Cape Town is definitely one of the most beautiful place on earth and people there by and large are very friendly, and eager to help.

I don't have direct experience other than JB and CT. Two couples in my eclipse group also traveled in SA by car after the eclipse. One of them rented car in JB. The following is some notes from one of the two couples about their impression of SA:

"We do want to go to South Africa again and next time will try to do the drive through the Kruger Nat'l Park and some of the spectacular scenery of the Eastern Cape. This time we drove from Port Elizabeth west along the "Garden Route" doing the tourist stuff (Plettenburg Bay, Knysna, Cango Caves, Ostrich Farms, etc.) and just enjoying the mountain and sea views. We drove the incredible Swartburg Pass (and lived to tell about it) over to Prince Albert where we stayed at a B&B operated by a guy who must just do it as a hobby, as our assessment of what it cost to restore his lovely old (1800s) house could not possibly be ever made up by what he charges. He included us in his evening barBQ party and we had a great time. Cape Town is lovely, as are the surroundings. The wine country (Stellenbosch) makes the Napa Valley look like the wrong side of the tracks, and the drive to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point is not to be missed. We also did the Table Mountain cable car trip, as the weather was clear, and visited Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent a couple of decades. By the way, I highly recommend the book "Long Walk to Freedom" by Mandela...his autobiography."

Of course, you definitely should go. Just always remember to use your traveller's common sense, don't be too overconcerned about safty issues,
and make sure to get the most from what CT and SA can offer. You will have a great great time there.

Jul 31st, 2001, 09:31 AM
Sarah Dallas
Posts: n/a
Dear Ali,

There is a useful page on crime on the Economists' cities site:

The best advise is: don't be scared, just be careful.


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