South Africa under siege
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued a strong warning for tourists wanting to visit South Africa. It just shows how much work has to be done if we want the 2010 Soccer World Cup to be a success and for the country to reap the benefits that should accrue after the event.
Some of the warnings are quite funny which shows just how immune South Africans have become to crime and chaos in South Africa:
- There is a high level of crime, but most occurs in townships and isolated areas away from the normal tourist destinations.
- The standard of driving is variable and there are many fatal accidents
- There is an underlying threat from terrorism. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
- During 2007 and 2008 there have been a number of incidents involving foreigners being followed from OR Tambo Airport, Johannesburg to their destinations by car and then robbed, often at gunpoint. We recommend you exercise particular caution in and around the airport and extra vigilance when driving away.
- The risk to visitors travelling to the main tourist destinations is low. But if you are mugged or your car is hijacked you should remain calm, offer no resistance and hand over possessions without question. Avoid eye contact. Consult a reliable tour guide if you are visiting a township.
- South Africa actively promotes an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign. But given the high level of HIV/AIDS in the country, you should seek immediate medical advice if you are sexually assaulted or otherwise injured.
- Due to pilfering of luggage at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, it is recommended that where possible, and where local regulations permit, hold luggage is vacuum wrapped.
- Johannesburg, like other major international cities, has specific risk areas. You should avoid Berea and Hillbrow. There is a high level of muggings around the Rotunda bus terminus in the Central Business District.
- In all areas of South Africa, you should be cautious when out after dark. Streets, even in urban areas, are not brightly lit at night. Be vigilant at all times in Durban’s city centre and beach front area. Keep to main roads and avoid driving at night when visiting Northern KwaZulu Natal and Zululand, as there have been incidents of hi-jacking and robbery, particularly on isolated secondary roads.
- You should park in well-lit areas. Do not pick up strangers. Do not stop to assist (apparently) distressed motorists, as this is a technique sometimes used by hijackers. It is better to report the incident to the police.
- Be vigilant on the approach roads to and from Kruger Park where there have been cases of car hijacking.
- Avoid isolated beaches and picnic spots across South Africa and stay in company. Walking alone anywhere, especially in remote areas, is not advised and hikers should stick to popular trails.
- There have been attacks on hikers and tourists on Table Mountain. Some attacks have been violent. You should be cautious when in the quieter areas of the Park, especially early in the morning or just before the park closes.
- The standard of driving in South Africa can vary greatly and there are many fatal accidents every year.
- On roundabouts, give way to the right, although this is often overlooked and it is wise to proceed with caution.
- You should avoid unfamiliar rural areas at night. Thieves have been known to employ various methods to make a vehicle stop, enabling them to rob the occupants. One such method is the placing of large stones in the middle of the road. In the circumstances it is prudent to carefully drive around the stones or obstacle, rather than stop the vehicle.
- You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.
- The prevalence rate of HIV AIDS is estimated at around 18.1% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%.
- There is a high incidence of credit card fraud and fraud involving ATM’s. Users of ATM’s should be vigilant to ensure their PIN number is not observed by others when withdrawing money. Offers of assistance from bystanders should be refused.
Do we need any more proof that we are a country under siege?