Safety in South Africa
Newspapers often tend to present South Africa’s major cities as being theaters of criminal acts. This problem exists in every big city and if you are a tourist, you will encounter criminality if you don’t follow some safety rules and don’t have some basic common sense.
So don’t be scared or paranoid because this part of the world is waiting to give you a lot of unforgettable surprises. Most of the incidents occur in poor areas and the so-called “township” (old suburbs from the Apartheid era), and in the urban centers of Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban after working hours. Some places can be interesting to visit because of their history but the tour may result in being really dangerous if a specialized guide does not escort you during your visit. In the cities mentioned above it is better for you to avoid visiting areas that you don’t know well during the night, and alone. In the capital Johannesburg, the districts of Hillbrow, Yeoville and Berea are considered to be of high risk.
A bit quieter is the modern Cape Town, but you should never forget to keep your eyes open and only take with you the money that you really need. Leave your money and documents in a safety box in the hotel and ask the hotel’s staff for tourist information and advice about the night and day life. It’s a good idea to make a copy of your documents.
Always take authorized taxies and try to avoid public transports unless the hotel or Tourist Info point can ensure the safety of the route. In some areas, especially bus stations and taxi stops, it would be better and safer if you not stay around them. The best method of payment is by way of credit card, but an ATM is the place where you most likely will get thieved. People usually tamper with the machine and steal or clone your card. Unfortunately this is a common problem for a lot of bank, and not only in South Africa. So be sure to carefully choose the whereabouts of your ATM and to withdraw money preferably during daily hours and in crowded places, such as shopping centres.
If you rent a car, lock the doors and be sure to know the route beforehand. Also, don’t forget that wild animals are unpredictable and it is likely to see them suddenly cross your way. For this driving fast can be dangerous. Enjoy the landscape around you and the amazing experience that South Africa has to offer.