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If you are being robbed in South Africa, HAND OVER your stuff and don’t make eye contact. Unfortunately, sometimes robbers may be high on some kind of drug and the slightest provocation may set them off to hurt you. Don’t be a hero. Your cellphone is not worth more than your life. You obviously want to avoid getting to this point, but if you are caught in this position, just hand over your stuff.
Mind you, don’t use messenger bags. And as a matter of fact, South Africa has the second highest incarceration rate of any developed country after the US.
On Paper, South Africa has a very robust and strong constitution that came into power in 1996. Her constitution protects all people in South Africa from discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation etc.
So no one is going to openly discriminate against you, because it’s against the law, right? If your response is yes then you are in for a very big surprise.
Let’s come back. Now, what comes to your mind when you hear the word South Africa? Xenophobia, right? Okay.
While we have heard of the good things and the bad about SA, you might guess I want to talk about xenophobia. But nope, there are other issues you probably do not know about South Africa, so, let’s journey together.
To get started, let me say this. If you’ve never been to South Africa, you are missing out on the good and the bad. Yes, I mean it.
At least, Sun City seems like a beautiful place unlike anywhere else on earth, but man, if you hate flying +/- 20 hour flight then that would basically be a living nightmare for you.
Fortunately, South Africa is mostly a beautiful place. In fact, it’s stupefying gorgeous. But unfortunately they are having some crime problems right now.
A South African, EttVenter said,
“I am a South African, and yeah, maybe I just take this place for granted. It definitely is beautiful, but to me, it feels so average in comparison other places I’ve seen. The crime is a problem though. I’m lucky enough to have never been a victim of any crime here, but I won’t deny that it’s crazy.”
“The crime is definitely not new. I was born just before the end of Apartheid and I can tell you there’s not a day in my life in which crime has not been a problem there, but it’s statistically better now than in the 90s".
That being said, it’s something South Africans have adjusted to and there are many ways that you as a tourist can remain safe and still have a wonderful trip. Brick had this to say.
“For a bit of context I was born and lived in South Africa until I was 8, and then we moved. I feel like you don’t really fully grasp how crazy the crime is until you live long periods of time in a country that is genuinely safe. I have memories of my parents telling me that the bangs I was hearing at night were firecrackers – which I believed for a good while until my mom told me a lot of the time they were likely gunshots, but she couldn’t tell her kid that. We moved here (New Zealand) and honestly it’s insane how safe it is.
Another tourist, Sered had this to say.
“I visited Johannesburg once but wasn’t allowed out of the hotel after dark and in the evenings, my (local, South-African) colleagues refused to stop for traffic lights on some roads, preferring to carefully drive through the red lights instead. These things certainly made an impression on me”.
In case you are puzzled already, well, the above is valid because wandering alone at night in Johannesburg basically invites a mugging. And unfortunately stopping at a red light in a quiet intersection may invite a high-jacking.
New Word: Mugging – an act of attacking and robbing someone in a public place.
So, those are the kinds of adjustments you make if you want to survive in South Africa as a tourist.
A tip in question.
Is every part of Johannesburg like the above? Nope. Not everywhere in South Africa is as dangerous as Johannesburg – Johannesburg is basically the worst as it gets.
"I’m originally from Cape Town and while we have a lot of crime, Johannesburg does scare me a little too. But people who live there get used to it and adjust".
So, as a tourist/visitor wanting to take time in South Africa, what do you do when you get there?
You had better adjust or just back out to the next place below. As it stands, you’ll find Cape Town touristy than Johannesburg and because of that, often safer if you ask me.
Nevertheless, your biggest concern as a tourist should be the crime. Tourists with their big wads of cash and expensive gadgets are of course, an easy target and because of ignorance or inexperience often get robbed.
As long as you remain in the tourist areas though, this will be rare. Again, the best thing to do is, find an agency or local to help you navigate through else you may get yourself in trouble unwittingly.
With all the points made valid, how can you avoid the crime rate in South Africa & survive as a tourist/visitor?
How To Avoid The Crime Rates In South Africa As A Tourist/Visitor
First things first. Just know that generally, crimes of opportunity like mugging or pick-pocketing are going to be what you need to be most worried about – so if you’re a soft target, you may be a victim of a crime.
What to do?
At all times use common sense and be vigilant about your surroundings – if your gut feeling says something is off the normal, beware at that moment and back off. Just to note, this is the same sense you apply if you are new in some parts of Lagos State of Nigeria. You have to be a wise man.
All right. Let’s see how to beat the common crime rates in South Africa as a tourist.
Don’t Carry Cash
Spots in South Africa basically accept debit and credit cards now, so, what you want to do is go with your CC and not cash. CC means Credit Card.
Don’t Wander Alone
Apart from carrying your CC around, you want to stick with a group of people because wandering alone may invite a mugging. For the same reason don’t walk alone at night. If you must, just get a tour group and stay with them and you will be fine.
Don’t Flash Fancy Personal Belongings
This is no zone to show your $50,000 Rolex wrist watch. If you do, then come see me on the other side. What you want to do is leave fancy pieces of jewelleries and watches at home and put expensive cameras and phones and laptops in a bag. In fact, put a lock on your backpack.
Don’t Give Money to Beggars
“Please help me I have not eaten for 21 days now”. This is the lines you will hear from beggars.
Immediately you hear that, ask them this. You haven’t eaten for 21 days and you are still alive?
Don’t get me wrong. Doing good to someone (charity) is great but, to get out of trouble when there, avoid it squarely. The truth is that you’ll see a lot of them because often at times someone might be begging to distract you while someone else pickpockets you.
Aha. Ooo, you thoughts those funny videos on YouTube were lie? If you want to be straight with them, when they approach you, ask them about the program made available for them.
How or Why? It might surprise you that the South Africa Govt. has programs in place to help such sets of people.
Keep Your Doors (Car and Home) Locked at All Times
You can keep your door open and carefree in New Zeeland but not in South Africa. If you do, sorry for your belongings.
In South Africa, a thief may take the opportunity to get in and out quickly. So, you never ever want to leave things in your car – not even in the trunk or out of plain sight, because car break ins are not just rare but very common.
Don’t Leave Things on the Seat Next to You When Driving In A Car
Sounds funny, right? Yeah, it is but if you want to get back home with your complete valuables, then you do not want to leave your things on the seat next to you when driving in a car because there are these things called “smash and grabs”. How “smash and grabs” works…
It is a situation where a thief will smash your passenger or backseat window while you’re at a traffic light, reach into the car and grab your handbag/laptop bag or whatever, and run away.
At that point, you’re sure to be stuck in traffic and there’s nothing you can do at that point. Call the Police or 911 if you want but note we ain’t in the US.
Strap Your Hand Bag or Purse around Your Body When at a Restaurant
Sorry this is rare in Africa, but in South Africa, when sitting down at a restaurant, you want to keep your bag on your lap or wrap the strap around your leg or arm to avoid someone just walking past and running away with your bag. I don’t know how this method is called but I know that this happens.
Be a Sheep when Robed and not James Bond
If you are being robbed, just laughably HAND OVER your stuff and don’t make eye contact. Why mustn’t you make eye contact? This is why. Because the plant called Weed is not yet banned in South Africa.
The truth is that unfortunately, sometimes robbers may be high on some kind of drug and the slightest provocation may set them off to hurt you which you might wake up in another earth. Please, don’t be a hero.
Your cellphone is not worth more than your life; that was when I checked last. So, you obviously want to avoid getting to this point, but if you are caught in this position, just hand over your stuff.
Don’t ask me if this only applies specifically to Johannesburg and Cape Town because it applies everywhere.
The Best Solution for Tourists Survival in South Africa
Crime Rates in South Africa Whether you are a hesitant visitor or not, it is advisable to do most of your touring with concerned agencies. It’s the easiest way to hit the highlights without worrying too much if you have done enough research.
Unless you know a local who can show you around, the most important thing is that you’re knowledgeable about where you’ll be safe and how you should act etc.
Lest I forget. I did say that South Africa is a developed country. Is that right?
Maybe I don’t know as much just yet but I know that fifty percent of her population live in poverty, so you won’t be wrong if you say, a developing country.
Having Plans of Visiting South Africa?
Sure, you want to because the place is epic. Remember Sun City. A tourist had this to say. “I visited the Cape Town area and it was one of the best trips of my life”.
Another South African said,
“we have the best local tourism can offer. Seriously – there are deserts, amazing Garden Routes, abandoned coast lines, game farms, abandoned mining towns, ridiculous waterfalls, amazing underground caves, the cradle of humankind, one of the world’s most luxurious trains, the Cape Peninsula, one of the best surfing locations in the world” – Jeffries Bay.
“you can go hot air ballooning, watch Great Whites jump out the water, dive with Great Whites, touch a lion, do walks in the Kruger, go on the world’s highest bungee jump, see amazing wetlands (St Lucia) and more…”
Insight – If traveling to South Africa will take many hours which can obviously make your blood can cloth, what you want to do is take some aspirin and you will be fine. Need a reason? See below.
I went to Cape Town for a couple of weeks in 2017. Beautiful city and would go back in a heartbeat. Felt pretty safe in a group. However my plane ticket was nearly $3,000 and including layovers, it took me about 24 hours to get there. Not me but Nimbus.
I have many things to say but I will allow South Africans to advise us. Paradigm,
Right now. For as long as I can remember, crime has been a part of life here. We don’t even really think about it anymore, precautions have become habits. But love it here. I’ve been to lots of places in the world but none have ever made me feel the way I do here in SA.
"Crime is bad, but if you stay in the touristy areas, you’ll be fine! There are crime hot spots, like everywhere, and avoiding them is relatively easy. The country invests a lot in tourism, so you’ll have a wonderfully pleasant stay".
I’m a New Zealander, and every South African I’ve ever met in New Zealand has said they love their country but they moved here to escape the crime, corruption, and a raft of other bullshit. It does look gorgeous, and I’m sure SA has a lot of great things going for it, but no thanks.
Just as you might feel safe, here is what Choatin said,
"it’s the country that made me feel the least safe and I have been to 40 as a female solo traveler. I was told not to climb Table Mountain by myself, not to ride the trains, not to go to the park, not to walk to the museum. I felt safer in Iran; it was crazy".
Okay, here is the real deal as EttVenter said.
"Our country certainly is flawed, but we have some really great qualities. We seriously have the most amazing weather, and we have amazing food that’s insanely cheap. Seriously, a fancy dinner with fillet steak, fancy wine, good desert, etc, for both me and my wife will cost us like $30 total".
Coming back to you, the tourist. My question is, will you be staying for a long time? If yes, then try to subscribe to some local news to know the latest buzzes.
I recommend the Daily Maverick newsletter, Mail and Guardian newsletter, Eyewitness news and E-News (no, this is not the US entertainment channel).
Are you planning on visiting South Africa? If yes, which part of it because South Africa is like two countries in one.
You can spend a month there and never even come close to the “violent, crime-ridden” South Africa. It all depends on which city you’re in, what suburb you’re in, sometimes even what block you’re on or what street you cross.
Tour Guilders: Re, Paradigm and EttVenter. Photo(s) Credit – Pixabay.com