Crime & Safety in South Africa
Here is some useful information about the South African Crime & Safety, to help you get an idea of what to expect and how to prepare before you travel.
South Africa does pose crime unfortunately, but can be avoided in most cases by staying alert and using common sense, in order to keep yourself and your valuables safe. Otherwise, come and enjoy our world class food, wine, accommodations and my photo tours and walks
South Africa is a country in transition, and as a result of this is experiencing the issues that come with economic inequities. This naturally results in high crime rates. Although the majority of visitors experience a crime-free trip to South Africa, it’s essential to practice vigilance and extreme care.
Crime can occur anywhere, but you should exercise particular caution in the central business districts (CBDs) of major cities like Gauteng, especially after dark. Cape Town CBD is much safer, but crime still exists. Stay to the busy popular areas such as Bree Street, Kloof Street and Somerset Road in Green Point.
Violent crimes, such as armed robbery, carjacking, mugging, and “smash-and-grab” attacks on vehicles affect visitors and residents alike, but can be avoided by staying out of dangerous areas and getting advice from a trustworthy local on where to go.
Avoid visiting informal settlement areas unless you are with someone familiar with the area or on an official organised tour.
When I take people on my Photography tours in Cape Town, I always choose the safety routes, transport methods and areas. Remember to stay with your tour group.
Do not walk alone at night, and exercise caution even during the day.
Avoid wearing jewelry (even costume jewelry), don’t invite attention by wearing an expensive camera around your neck, and don’t flash a large wad of cash.
If you have a handbag, wear the strap across your body, or wear a money belt, preferably hidden from view under your clothing.
Comprehensive medical travel insurance is highly recommended so that you may be admitted into a private hospital and not a very poorly run public one.
- Take someone with you when you want to withdraw money from an ATM
- Withdraw money inside a bank if possible
- Make a note of your credit card or bank details in case of them getting stolen or lost
- Withdraw large sums of money from an ATM – rather use your credit card
- ACCEPT HELP FROM A STRANGER, not even someone who looks like a security guard. If your card should get stuck or be “swallowed” by the machine, stay there and send your companion to look for help or phone the number on the machine
Driving in a private/rented vehicle:
- Plan your route in advance
- Keep your car doors locked at all times and windows closed
- Lock valuable items in the boot
- At night, park in well-lit areas
- Never pick up strangers or hitch-hikers
- If in any doubt about the safety of an area, phone a police station for advice
Taxis, buses & trains:
- UBER is very well run in Cape Town and is the suggested mode of transport
- Ordering from a certified taxi company such as Elite Taxis, Citi Shuttles, Cape Town Shuttles, Excite Taxis and Rikkis is better than choosing a random private one from the street, for safety reasons.
- Be aware of the white bus taxis, while very cheap, they drive very recklessly, involving many fatal accidents and are often not road worthy.
- Be aware of public trains as they have a risk of muggings
Most small time crimes can be avoid, by simply being vigilant and using common sense.
At Hotel or BnB:
- Never leave your luggage unattended
- Store valuables in the hotel’s safe-deposit box
- Keep your room locked, whether you’re in it or not
- If someone knocks, check who it is first before opening the door
- Hand the keys in at reception whenever you leave the hotel
- Make a copy of your passport or visa and place this either in a separate bag or keep it online in case your’s goes missing.
While this is generally a safe area, the usual applies.
- keep you bag on your lap and not slung over your chair especially at more outdoor venues, as criminal walk past and either snatch the bag or something in it like you purse, without you realizing.
- Some restaurants have clip in chains under the tables to secure your bag form a grab and run.
- Do not leave your phone or other valuables unattended on the table, again especially if you are sitting outside or close to the street, where someone can easily grab them off the table and run.
- Avoid displays of expensive jewellery, cameras and other valuables
- Walk with your bag held in front of you and not to your side so that a criminal cannot grab and run with it from behind
- Don’t carry large sums of money around
- At night, steer clear of dark, isolated areas
- It’s better to explore in groups and stick to well-lit, busy streets
- 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 tourist information office will recommend a reliable service
- Stay with the group – Your tour guide will give you his/her contact number as well as that of the driver’s. If not please advise them to do so