Amazing scenery, incomparable wildlife and hospitable people. South Africa has many attributes worthy of praise, though has a reputation when it comes to crime. The country is very welcoming and keen to improve its negative image, so minimise your risk – be knowledgeable, use common sense and jump right in!
As with any country, don’t flash large amounts of money, expensive jewellery, cameras or phones around. Use care when withdrawing money from cash machines in public areas including airports, bus and railway stations. Always keep your belongings and baggage in sight and do not give your bank details to anyone.
Avoid walking around the city at night, take a cab.
Avoid hailing a cab on the street, ask staff at your accommodation to organise one for you.
If you intend to drive yourself anywhere make sure to keep all doors locked, especially when in cities and ignore anyone who confronts you if stopped at traffic lights or intersections.
‘Car Guards’ are on duty within South Africa’s cities though should not be relied upon for the safety of your vehicle. These guards wear clothing that will identify them as a ‘Guard’ and they will also
expect a generous ‘tip’.
DO NOT EVER stop for a hitchhiker, even if they seem in trouble or distressed. If this seems a bit harsh, continue on your journey without stopping and call the Police.
Plan all car journeys and make sure to note petrol stations along the way. You do not want to be caught in the middle of nowhere with an empty tank.
Criminal gangs have been known to set up fake roadblocks, so only stop at those manned by Police.
If you want to visit African townships, do so with a reputable organised tour group.
When visiting Game Parks, again it’s recommended to do so with an organised tour group. If braving one in a car, DO NOT get out, except for in designated rest/picnic spots. NEVER attempt to get too close to wildlife, make sudden loud noises or hang out of windows.
Although crime levels are much lower in more remote areas, always check on any warnings or safety concerns. This can be done by ringing the National Tourism Information and Safety 083 123 2345.
If you intend to go swimming in any of South Africa’s beautiful beaches, ALWAYS follow safety precautions that are indicated on notice boards and swim in the ‘safe zones’ laid out by Lifeguards using flags. Also be aware that not all beaches have shark nets, and flags are used to indicate if they have been spotted in the area.
BLACK flags indicates water is too murky to spot a shark.
GREEN flags indicate water is clear and no sharks have been spotted.
RED flags indicate a shark has been spotted on that day.
WHITE flag with a black shark, means a shark has been spotted and you should NOT be in the water.
At some beaches, a siren is used to alert swimmers of a shark sighting. If you hear this, get out of the water immediately!
The emergency number to call for the Police is in South Africa is 10111.
Carry your phone with you ALWAYS, and before you arrive ensure it will work whilst you are there.