How much does crime affect tourism in South Africa? this is a question asked by many tourist planning to visit the Country. South Africa is a near to perfect tourist destination. The South African beaches and wildlife are spectacular, the standard of accommodation in South Africa surpasses that of most first world counties and the value for money is unbeatable. Unfortunately South Africa does suffer from far too much crime and it is recommended that you take these circumstances into account when you plan your visit to South Africa.
Crime in South Africa LinksDrakensberg Tourism - A large selection of accommodation in the Drakensberg
Political violence has significantly decreased in most areas of South Africa since the establishment of a democratically-elected government in May 1994. Areas most frequented by tourists, such as major hotels, game parks, and beaches, have generally been unaffected by political violence. Although foreigners have not been specifically targeted, travelers are encouraged to be vigilant and avoid any large gathering. Nevertheless, the possibility of renewed violence particularly in times of heightened world tension. It may be advisable to avoid the large public gatherings that are common on the following South African holidays: March 21 (Human Rights Day), April 27 (Freedom Day), May 1 (Worker's Day), and June 16 (Youth Day).
While visiting game parks and reserves, leaving your vehicle or otherwise being on foot can be dangerous, even in the presence of a guide. There have been several incidents of wild animal attacks on tourists in the region, which have resulted in deaths and serious injury.
Although the vast majority of visitors complete their travels in South Africa without incident, visitors should be aware that criminal activity, sometimes violent, occurs on a routine basis. Crime in South Africa is perceived to be a significant threat to the country's overall stability and to the welfare of its citizens. Criminal activity, such as assault and armed robbery, is particularly high in areas surrounding many hotels and public transportation centers, especially in major cities. Tourists should exercise particular caution in these areas. Notwithstanding government anti-crime efforts, violent crimes such as carjackings, muggings, "smash and grab" attacks on vehicles and other incidents are regularly reported by visitors.
Passports and other valuables are often stolen at airports in South Africa. Crimes against property, such as carjacking, have often been accompanied by violent acts, including murder. South Africa has a very high incidence of rape. Foreigners are not specifically targeted, although foreigners have been raped on rare occasions.
Travelers may also wish to consider avoiding local commuter and metro trains, especially between Johannesburg and Pretoria. In the Western Cape, police resources have been strained by continuing gang conflicts and vigilante violence in the townships near Cape Town. Travelers should use extreme caution when traveling in, to, or through affected areas. Credit card fraud, counterfeit U.S. currency, and various check-cashing scams are frequently reported. Please do not permit anyone to "assist" you with ATM transactions.
If you are the victim of a crime in South Africa, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact your nearest embassy or consulate for assistance. The Embassy /Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of South African authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
The loss or theft abroad of a passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest embassy or consulate.
Travelers should avoid nighttime travel outside major cities and use caution when driving in the former "independent homelands" of Transkei and Ciskei, which have been incorporated into the provinces of Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Some areas, such as the "wild coast" in the former Transkei, have significant levels of crime and inadequate medical services. This situation, though improving, has caused problems for foreign travelers to the area.
Private medical facilities are good in urban areas and in the vicinity of game parks and beaches, but they may be limited elsewhere.
The information below concerning South Africa is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good
Road conditions are generally good. Many drivers travel at very high rates of speed, and poor lighting on rural roads and insufficient regulatory control regarding driver licensing and vehicle maintenance pose dangers to travelers.