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Is safety an issue in South Africa, especially around Cape Town?

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Let me start by saying that I am not a timid traveler. I apparently project an image of ‘leave me alone’ to potential troublemakers and I have never had a problem even when doing things people have told never to do. With that out of the way, I’ve been reading a lot about South Africa and talking to a couple of people who have been there about what’s interesting and if there are any problems to be aware of.

One woman friend says she has never had a problem going anywhere in South Africa as long as she uses a little common sense. A guy I know says a buddy of his was nearly killed three blocks from his hotel in Joburg by a couple of street people. One guidebook even talks about problems in Cape Town (this is where we would be spending most of our time) a couple of years ago.

I really do not want to take taxis everyplace or have to be concerned about walking in certain neighborhoods or at certain times of day. Walking around cities is the best way to get to experience them. Has anybody returned recently with any comments regarding safety or lack thereof?

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