Crime and Personal Safety in South Africa
While many people have heard terrible stories about crime in South Africa, this represents only a few incidents. The crime statistics in South Africa are falling and Cape Town continues to be the safest place in South Africa.
However, even here, one should be aware of ones surroundings to make sure that your vacation is safe and that your belongings are secure.
Every country all around the world experiences crime levels to a certain degree and wherever you travel you should take special precautions to be safe. When traveling by car, always take note of where you are and do not stop on any road to change a tire or rest. While some roads are safe, there are some where hijackings are common, especially in Gauteng. If it is night time and you are on a quiet road, you do not need to stop if the robot (traffic light) turns red. Treat it as a yield sign and if it is safe to do so, keep driving. Also make sure that all your windows and doors are locked at all times. This same advice applies to where you stay. If you are in a hotel or lodge, also keep your door locked and ensure that your precious items are stored in the safes that are provided. At a self catering accommodation also be sure to keep everything locked and alarmed at night. Make sure that your car is parked in the garage if possible and locked. Also never leave any of your belongings in the car at night or even when you are on a daytrip.
If you want to walk around while on vacation, there are certain areas that should be avoided.
You can usually tell which ones these are by looking around. Places like the Cape Flats and Mitchell’s Plain have incidences of gang violence and the townships like Soweto are not safe to walk around in on your own. If you are with a tour guide or group it is far safer. In the street of Johannesburg, it is not safe to walk around at night, whereas in Cape Town it is fairly safe, although you must always keep your guard. You will usually get a good idea about which areas are safer than others by asking some of the locals if you are not sure. When you are walking even during the day, do not flash your expensive items like jewelry or watches and keep your money and credit cards safely in a wallet inside a closed bag or money belt. Pick pockets are around, so keep your bag in front of you or tucked under your arm securely.
Just by following these easy to do things, you can make sure that you are safe and that your personal items are secure. South Africa is not a very dangerous place and most of the time the people in most areas are friendly, polite and helpful. It is however, always better to be safe than sorry.