After the recent murder of Anni Dewani, South Africa has once again earned itself a bad name for being a dangerous destination to visit and with its increasing crime rate, a destination to avoid. However Shrien Dewani, husband of Anni, has defended the country urging prospective tourists not to shun South Africa. Although South Africa carries a bad reputation for crime, the same safety rules apply for almost any country you visit, even your own!
All it takes is a few simple precautions to avoid getting yourself into a sticky situation or a dangerous position. Here are some easy steps to follow when holidaying in South Africa:
- Research before you travel – Not only will you find out the best places to visit but also any challenges which might present themselves. As well as researching via books and the internet, it is also wise to speak to someone you feel you can trust, like the hotel owner, to give a more realistic view of what’s what.
- Keep up to date with current news and events – It’s always handy to know what’s going on, especially if there’s a large event planned or a bad situation presenting itself in a particular area.
- Plan ahead – Tourists can be targets of crime, therefore plan ahead. Know where you’re staying and how you plan to get there, whatever you do, don’t loiter.
- Secure luggage – South Africa airports have a reputation for luggage tampering and theft. Ensure you secure all luggage well, before check-in, even using a cable tie or similar.
- Avoid avoid avoid – Avoid going anywhere isolated, known for drug crimes, gang violence etc. and avoid going into the central business areas of main cities at night. Ask a hotelier or a trusted person for information.
- Dress down – Don’t attract unwanted attention by strutting your stuff in your finest attire. Don’t flaunt valuables and leave expensive jewellery at home (including watches).
- Car hire – If you’re brave enough to hire a car, plan all routes well and ensure the car is in good working order, especially when planning a long journey. Make sure you have adequate fuel and cash and avoid unlit roads with potholes and poorly sealed surfaces….the last thing you want is to be left stranded and vulnerable. Always keep the doors locked and valuables out of sight, don’t give anyone a lift and if stuck, ask the police for directions.
- Typical tourist – A tourist can be spotted a mile off, so try and play it cool! Don’t read maps in public, don’t carry a camera around your neck and don’t don a bum bag around your waste….be discreet!
- Use your noggin – Common sense goes a long way….don’t accept a lift from anyone other than a marked vehicle or a staffed taxi rank. Always place any valuable items in your hotels safety deposit box, keep handbags held tightly and don’t carry a wallet in your back pocket, instead, carry money pouches close to your body and don’t carry large amounts of cash.
Although there’s no need to assume everywhere is dangerous, it’s wise to always proceed with caution and above all else, be responsible and knowledgeable.