Many tourists travel to South Africa without any problems. However, the country has a very high level of crime and if you are considering a trip, you should research the risks and make sure you have taken appropriate steps to minimise them.

Key issues relating to crime than the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office warns of –

  • ‘Most cases of violent crime and murder tend to occur in townships remote and isolated areas. Consult a reliable tour guide if you visit a township.’ Strongly reconsider plans for independent travel.
  • A series of bombs have been set around Durban, and a couple of them have been triggered. An investigation is underway.
  • Remain vigilant in large crowds.
  • South African taxi drivers are in an ongoing dispute with Uber drivers and this can become violent. ‘You should exercise caution when using either service, particularly if using the Gautrain or travelling to and from airports in South Africa.’
  • Carjacking and robberies of passengers in cars are common – read the specific advice.
  • Be aware of crimes at OR Tambo International Airport.
  • Do not share your personal information.

Please read the full advice from the FCO before you book your trip. Do not forget to buy appropriate travel insurance too!

Government travel advice

Links to travel advice on visiting South Africa from the following governments –

Please note that the travel advice varies – it is worth reading them all and reaching your own conclusion.

From the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

South Africa has a very high level of crime, including rape and murder. The risk of violent crime to visitors travelling to the main tourist destinations is generally low. The South African authorities give high priority to protecting tourists and tourism police are deployed in several large towns. The risk of crime increases in urban areas across South Africa, particularly in central business districts in major cities, and townships on the outskirts of major cities. A higher state of awareness is required if travelling through these areas. Most cases of violent crime and murder tend to occur in townships remote and isolated areas. Consult a reliable tour guide if you visit a township.

As of July 2018, police are investigating a series of incendiary devices placed at different locations in the Durban area. Two of these devices were triggered, causing small fires. You should exercise usual caution if you encounter unexpected devices or packages. If in doubt, contact the police.

Crime increases in areas where large crowds gather, so be particularly vigilant if you’re attending sporting or other events that attract large numbers.

There are ongoing tensions between Uber and metered taxi drivers, which at times escalate into violence. You should exercise caution when using either service, particularly if using the Gautrain or travelling to and from airports in South Africa.

Incidents of vehicle hi-jacking and robbery are common, particularly after dark. Keep to main roads and park in well lit areas. Vulnerable areas include, but are not limited to: traffic lights, junctions, and when approaching or pulling out from driveways. Take care at all times and be vigilant of your surroundings when in a stationary vehicle.

There are frequent incidents of car windows being broken and valuables taken while cars are waiting at junctions. Keep valuables out of sight.

Due to thefts at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, you should vacuum-wrap luggage where local regulations permit. Keep all valuables in your carry-on luggage.

Keep large amounts of money, expensive jewellery, cameras and phones out of sight. Don’t change or withdraw large sums of money in busy public areas including foreign exchange facilities or ATMs. Thieves operate at international airports, bus and railway stations, and in all major central business districts. Keep your valuables safe and baggage with you at all times.

Don’t give personal or financial account information details to anyone. There are international fraud rings operating in South Africa, who may target visitors and charities.

from Travel Advice Summary, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/south-africa

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