An UK travel company, Travel Butlers has the following advice for tourists when travelling in South Africa:
"Although South Africa has had well-publicised crime problems over the last few years, it is worth remembering that most tourists are completely unaffected. As with every place that you travel to throughout the world, you should be aware at all times of what is going on around you. By adopting a few simple, common sense precautions you will lessen your chances of becoming a victim of any form of crime:
- Unfortunately, as is the case in the majority of large towns or cities, pick-pocketing is a problem, so either wear a money belt or keep a hold on your wallet.
- Thefts from cars, especially the easily-identifiable hire cars, is quite common, so always lock your car up when you leave it, even if only briefly going into the petrol station to buy a drink, and don't leave anything on show.
- Don't flash expensive jewellery or camera equipment around, and keep your bags under the table when at a cafe or restaurant.
- Avoid carrying large sums of cash around with you - most places take credit cards, or just take out enough cash from the ATM to cover you for a couple of days. Don't count your money in the open.
- Do not allow strangers to assist you in your transactions at an ATM. If the card appears to be stuck, immediately call the number that can usually be found at ATMs for assistance. Be alert at all times. Only use ATMs in areas that are well lit.
- Some areas of certain towns, such as Cape Town and Durban, are unsafe to walk in after dark, so check with your host at your guest house for local advice.
- Only use recommended taxi firms - ask your guest house host to recommend a company to you.
- We also strongly advise against visiting any township on your own, but if you are interested in doing a township tour, there are many reputable operators who can arrange a tour for you.
- Use only registered, qualified tour guides.
- If you are mugged, do not resist - hand over your valuables, and wait until your assailant is out of sight before heading for the nearest phone."
Here's some comments by people who visited South Africa. They were pleasently surprised about the crime situation in the areas they visited:
5 July 2007, Crime - yes it does exist, but then it does in the UK and anywhere else - I wouldn't walk round areas of he UK at night, stabings and theft are rife right now! Tourists in SA are usually not touched by crime as you aren't likely to go to the dangerous areas. I have been every year for a month for the last 7 years and I LOVE it!
I have been in the south, the center, the north - to the cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Pietermaritzberg, to the Kruger National Park and all along the Garden Route. It just gets better and better with every visit. I have NEVER seen any crime in all my visits and that cant just be luck - it's that I avoid dangerous areas and take the precautions I would on any holiday in any country in the world.
The business opportunities are huge in SA and I am considering moving there to the Cape next year with my family, my husband and out 2 small children.
March 2006, Denever from Colorado said the following about Cape Town: "By far, the friendliest people we have encountered anywhere in the world, and we have seen a bunch of it. ALWAYS felt safe (with basic common sense) and the people seem to go out of their way to help you have a great time. An absolutely contagious attitude down there, from everyone we encountered, white, black or colored. Never seen so many smiles in my life."... (read more)
1 October 2004, We ignored the advice that said “South Africa is a violent Country , don’t risk a visit,” and made the visit. You know what - it's a friendly country in which we felt as safe as if we were at home in the U.K. The scenery is diverse and absolutely magnificent... (read more)
May 2002, Chris Matthews, host of CNBC Hardball, New York who filed reports from SA when he was here with his family in the December holidays: "Amid overseas news accounts of street crime and car hijackings here, the real South African story has gone unreported. People here are dealing with others as people..It is a scene of harmony and hope I didn't expect to find, not in SA, not yet?"... (read more)
May 2002, From a British passenger, Susie Baxter: "I felt safe in South Africa despite my previous perceptions of the country's high crime rate."... (read more)
July/August 2001, It's true that theft occurs here more often than in many American cities. Counter it by taking the same precautions you'd take in any new city. By keeping my appearance neutral, my wallet light, and not wandering around on foot at night, I spent six months here without even a hint of trouble. Don't let scare stories cheat you out of the eye-opening, mind-expanding experience that is Cape Town... (read more)