Saturday, October 13, 2007

Crime in South Africa

Every where in the wealthier communities in South Africa you are reminded on the harsh reality of everyday crime. Fences with long spikes, electric fences and watch out signs are clearly visible. This as parts of the population enjoy a western living standard where as others live under conditions you will not imagine. For this is an important reality even facing the traveler. Do not take any chances on your way. Here are some rules to follow when traveling and staying in South Africa.
I have no first hand knowledge to South Africa, and thus these rules are based on the experience s from my trip, and discussions from those that do know.

Rule number 1: Be streetwise - dress and accessorize wisely!

When you travel around, leave you Armani suit, Dior dress, Rolex and Cartier ring behind. Do not flaunt any valuables while being in a city area, as this will make you an attractive target for criminals. In fact, one of those we visited, told us that a kid had been killed for as little as a watch.

Rule number 2: Lock your door while driving in urban areas!!

This was stressed by most of those I talked to. The chances to be attacked while stopping at a traffic light must not be ignored, night as day.

Rule number 3: Do not leave your luggage in your car for others to see!!

We were strongly advised to leave our luggage at the hotel, while traveling around. Either that, or hire a car that does not display your luggage for others to see. The last day we were in Johannesburg, a friend kept our luggage in the closed luggage compartment his car, while lunching in Newtown.

Rule number 4: Do not walk in most urban areas after dark!!

I say most, as there are areas considered relatively safe. Where we stayed in Johannesburg, Melville, we could walk relatively safely, even after dark, whereas during my stay at the Durban beachfront, I was strongly recommended to stay in the hotel after dark. I was even warned to take the relatively short distance to the Suncoast Casino and mall that was a safe area, as it was patrolled by guards during all hours. Do consult the staff at the hotel you stay.

Rule number 5: If you have to leave after dark - take a taxi to your destination!!

Taking a taxi is very inexpensive in South Africa. So if you will leave your hotel after dark, order a taxi to your destination and back to the hotel. In that way you do may enjoy a good time in a large city without having to put yourself at risk.

Rule number 6: Be aware at ATM machines

We were particularly alert while withdrawing money at the ATM machines. We were aware of strange situations, even in a safe area as Melville. Thus we were always two as we withdrew money.

Rule number 7: Check security with someone that knows the place you stay!

South Africa is a large country, with many differences. Do not make your own risk assessment, but ask the staff at the hotel or the local Tourist Information for their opinion and act accordingly!

And with this in mind, you can enjoy a great and safe trip to South Africa

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