Please take a moment to familiarise yourself with the forum guidelines:
Check out our country and city guides at

Safety in South Africa

edited January 2010 in - Southern Africa
Hi Guys - I am going to South Africa to watch France win the World Cup. What is the situation there regards safety. I have heard that safety in South Africa is not good - particularly in Johannesburg. In fact I have just seen a program on the BBC News where people are buying stab proof jackets for their trip, surely this is scaremongering, or is this just to protect supporters from the English hooligans!! Seriously, all comments appreciated... M
Visit for destination advice


  • edited 4:17AM
    Hi Mathieu, South Africa is essentially an unusual mix of first world luxury surrounded with 3rd world poverty. This contrast creates an environment where you could totally insulate yourself against the slightest risk or you could increase risk by travelling the low road. While the crime threat is certainly not a factor to be totally dismissed, its certainly not a factor to stop you enjoying every minute of your trip. I have been living in Italy now for 7 years so I do have a more objective view than my mates who still live there because when you live in SA you start to take some level of risk for granted (you simply do not see it anymore). For the local residents the risks are a lot higher than than for tourists due to organised crime as well as housebreaking (very confrontational). If you are an aware traveller, just look out for the obvious like the con artists who try to wrangle you from International arrivals in Jhb. Either hire your own car at the airport or go directly to the formal taxi rank rather than accept guidedance from the informal guys. Stick to the popular main areas and avoid driving at night. Unlike Europe the traditional city centers have gone 3rd world and are now nogo zones (exception is Cape Town), in Jhb Sandton is the new viable city center, don't go to the old down town Jhb. Do the obvious thing like do not go to remote ATM machines to draw cash by yourself and avoid flashing wealth to the public. The road infrastructure across South Africa is still pretty good and certainly worth the effort and freedom of driving. The normal trains (exceptions are the 5 star Blue train and Rovos rail) are not recommended for trans SA travel. Exception is probably the coast hugging trip from Cape Town to Simons Town as well as the historical line form Knysna to George. This means you should consider hire cars and flights (you need to book these, local flight costs have rocketed unfortunately). The quality of life in South Africa still far exceeds the average quality of life in Europe as its blessed with great weather, warm sincere people and a beautiful country. Unfortunately costs are soaring for the World Cup which is a shame as the Rand is around 10 vs 1 Euro and normally it still represents good value. South Africa is a diverse country adn it would take a minimum of 3 weeks to see parts of it (the phrase coined is "a world in one country"). I did not plan to leave SA, I was transferred from SA to Italy, I still own my house in Johannesburg and I certainly will be going back to live there once my kids have finished university in Europe. I hope you find this useful, you are welcome to contact me on email ([email protected]) if you would like some specific advice.
  • edited 4:17AM
    Hi Mathieu

    I think JHB is like any other big city in the world so the same rules will apply,one thing that you can buy is a good hat and
  • edited 4:17AM
    Johannesburg is not like any other big city in the world. It is by any standards a relatively dangerous place, where hijackings and muggings will occur. However, by taking basic preacautions your chances of being a victim are still veyr small indeed, and certainly no paranoia or Kevlar jackets are required. Cape Town and other cities are much safer though. Another thing to remember is that during world cup there will be an enormous security presence in Joburg and beyond which will elevate security levels to very high standards.
  • Hi M. So glad you are coming to South Africa. The Tickets are flying and it's mainly NOT South Africans buying them. If you are going to Johannesburg, be more alert then ever! I live in Cape Town (close to the sea, and it is a totally other type of environment than JHB). The two is about 1400 km apart. If you can, arrange your travel plans that you make a turn in Cape Town as well. The hotels are great, the vibe is excellent, and a brand new stadium is waiting for the Soccer fans.If you are coming to JHB in June, its not raining alot, if you are coming to Cape Town, be sure to pack in the umbrella. Anything else I can help you with?
  • edited 4:17AM
    Our family will be traveling to South Africa for the World Cup, however, we will be in Durban for the entire two weeks. I noticed that most of the comments on safety relate to Jhb or Cape Town. Can anyone comment on Durban? We have secured internal flights from Jhb to Durban and have rented cars for the duration of our stay.
  • edited February 2010
    Nothing to worry about in SA mostly during the world cup. South Africa is just like nay other developing country and its wise to take safety measures. During World Cup FIFA and the SA government are working with plain clothes police men/women to make sure that security is enhanced.

    Please see below information

    The Government has assured the millions of fans who will be coming to watch the 2010 World Cup that they will be safe in South Africa.There are a number of prongs to South Africa's safety and security plan:

    South Africa will be working closely with international agencies to gather intelligence
    There will be a focus on border security at ports of entry - including SouthAfrica's land, sea and air borders

    * Route security, specifically those leading from airports into the cities, will be a priority
    * Police are to divide the host cities into sections, with teams patrolling sections and focusing on FIFA headquarters, hotels, other accommodation establishments, the stadiums, fan parks, restaurants and tourist venues
    * State-of-the-art information and communication military technology will be used as well as a fleet of nearly 40 helicopters
    * A dedicated force of 41 000 officers will be deployed.

    Some R665-million will be spent on procuring special equipment, including crowd-control equipment, crime scene trainers, unmanned aircraft, helicopters, 10 water cannons, 100 BMWs for highway patrol and up-to-date body armour. About300 mobile cameras will also be used. There will be four mobile command centres at a cost of around R6 million each. These centres will feature high-tech monitoring equipment, which will be able to receive live footage from the airplanes and other cameras. These investments will continue to assist the police in their crime-fighting initiatives long after the World Cup is over.

    The South African Police Service (SAPS) will spend R640million on the deployment of 41 000 officers specifically for the event.Recruitment and event-specific training for this force is under way. The SAPS is on a massive recruitment drive to increase general police numbers by 55 000to over 190 000 by 2009. The number of police reservists will also double before the FIFA World Cup, from 45 000 members to 100 000. So, by 2010 South Africa will have a significantly larger and well-trained police service. In addition, countries competing in the event will send their own specially trained police officers to assist with languages and cultural differences and to support the SAPS.

    South Africa will have dedicated 2010 police stations within close proximity to each of the stadiums, as well as dedicated crime-investigation teams and special courts to investigate and deal with all event-related crimes 24/7.

    A 24-hour multilingual hotline will assist visitors requiring police or medical services. The Regional (SADC) Security Plan has been finalize and cooperation with several countries has been initiated.Border security and sea and air security strategies are in place.

    South Africa submitted the comprehensive safety and security plan for the 2010 World Cup to FIFA on 30 June 2008 - on schedule.
  • edited 4:17AM
    Do not let people misguide you into believing you shouldn't visit a country because of crime. You also probably stay in a town/city that hs crime? Now the same rules apply in JHB as there, lots of do's and dont's - adhere to these and you'll enjoy your trip.
  • edited 4:17AM

    I live in South Africa, crime here is out of control and the authorities are hopelessly crippled by corruption.

    But hey, don't take my word for it. Most South-African news papers are published on line, why not read one of them for a week. You will be horrified.

    There are many people who have wonderfull hopes of earning lots of money from the overseas soccer supporters, and they, as well as the government (who have spent billions) will certainly try and convince you, you will be perfectly safe...

    Go to (Johannesburg newspaper), (Soweto, the worlds most famous shantitown's old paper but now probably the most honnest in SA) or

    Read these for a week, they are full of horror, murder and corruption and then know that your arrival will be awaited here with glee.

    Don't you have a television?
  • edited 4:17AM
    Why not go to for your peace of mind!
  • edited 4:17AM
    Go to any newspaper website and they will be full of 'horror, murder and corruption'. Unfortunately that's what sells papers!
    Living in a city myself I agree - Joburg probably has it's problems just like any other city but a level of common sense is required. I know there are parts of my city I wouldn't wander around on my own at night, so why would I all of a sudden lose my senses when in another city?
    Follow advice, DON'T read the newspapers and take Andries post with a pinch of salt. Some people just get off winding people up!
  • edited 4:17AM
    Come folks, South Africa is a wonderful country. Plus, EVERYTHING IS JUST SUPER!!! VERY Little violent crime, hardly any car jackings that end up with people being shot ...all just figments of the imagination of greedy newspapers and doomsday white people.
  • edited 4:17AM
    nice to read the different comments on safety: if you are looking for excellent accommodation/location in Cape Town about 3 km from the green point/cape town stadium go to rates are negotiable and staff are great.
  • edited 4:17AM
    Hi guys, I am 29 years old and have lived in South Africa now for 15 years. I live in Cape Town... supposedly a less dangerous place... but to tell you the truth, it is just as bad here as in Johannesburg or any other place in South Africa!

    You, as a tourist are the target, of hundreds of thieves, murderers and rapists! Its not safe here! I do NOT go out into town at night if we are less than 5 guys and even then, it can get really dodgy! A couple is a prime and easy target for these guys! Do not under any circumstances! ask any person for directions at night on the street!!! If you do decide to come to South Africa! Rather get in your car "lock your doors immediately!" and drive to the nearest Petrol station and ask a manager inside for any directions! People always seem friendly, but they are only after one thing... your money! They don not mind killing for a measly R50! Which is approximately $5 dollar!!!

    With the current situation, the death of the AWB leader and the fact that our ANC youth league president Malema... Hates the whites, no white person is safe any more! The tension is getting really bad and I am seriously contemplating leaving South Africa all together! Not even the small towns, are safe any more, with increase in crime through the ruff! The real figures will never be given on the exact crime figures, because of the upcoming soccer world cup, but I am telling you that it is really bad! They broke into my place, alarm and burglar bars and every possible precaution I could take, and during the day, they broke in and stole all of my electronic equipment! All of this while my neighbours where home and all with in 20min, of me leaving and coming back!

    If you do come! Be ready for anything!!! And by this I mean worst case scenario. Its not as safe as the media claim it to be! And that people are buying stab proof vests... well I would honestly say, get it if you are a tourist and you can afford it! And do not show off your expensive cameras...this makes you tourists so easily recognisable!
  • edited 4:17AM
    South Africa is a developing country and crime does exist. We advise you to take special precautions to ensure you have a safe trip. Our self defense kits is the legal way of defending yourself in South Africa. We as a Security company understand that you would like to feel safe. Just as we would like to ensure your safety and security in South Africa we also keep those in need safe, therefore once you return back home after the world cup we donate your self defense kit to woman in need of it. (read more)

    Before you travel to South Africa ensure you have ordered your safety pack from Adonai Security. Click Buy now and get your self defense kit online and have it delivered to your hotel in South Africa.
  • edited 4:17AM
    SA is a beautiful country and I hope the World cup is a great success. However crime is out of control here, so I will be leaving SA in the near future.
  • edited 4:17AM
    Watch for this Guy in Lagos Nigeria...

    I Think I have been scammed from a guy from yahoo personals, his name is Paul Jackson at the begining. [email protected] Have you guys seen this guy on It was my first time on the web looking for love. I hade spent a $450 in a new cell phone cent it to Lagos Nigeria, $2,500 in cash and he normally used to send me flowers home. I have never meet him in person, he claimed to have a computer business born and rise in Phoenix Arizona, house in New York. His movil number is 646-461-8089, 646-461-3892, 646-666-9674 landline Paetec Communications Level 3 communications. Phone in Nigeria 234-813-838-1234 Please watch for this guy because I think is a REAL scammer, he is just upsent with me at the moment because I haven't send more money. I feel so stupid, I did not such a thing exist in this world still. He claimed to work for United Nations, supplying computer to the libraries in major quantities in Lagos Nigeria. [email protected] too.
    I guess I can't trace him because he knows all my e-mails. He was apparently at St Francis Hospital in Nigeria and his Dr. Was Yemi Olibumbao or something like that. Phone in nigeria: 234-7027098637. Like you guys said, he was e-mailing me and calling me almost every other day to ask me how much I can help him with. He has British accent too. His is a very attractive man, wearing a blue shirt, is the only phone I do have. I ask for more and he never, ever took some new photos. I am assuming he is not the guy from the photo. I contacted yahoo to let them know, and I never got a response, I think because he deleted his profile there. Any suggestions? Thank you guys.
  • edited 4:17AM
    I just came back with family ( kids 9 and 15, blond! girl and boy) from 3 weeks in South Africa for world cup.
    Also drove through Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesetho.
    Walked and drove anywhere I felt like , day or night, no problems.

    I am from Europe, have lived in the US over 20 years, traveled extensively to many countries ( ei Colombia, Venezuela , Guatemala, Mexico) and have been only mugged ( very violantly) in.... Memphis, Tennessee.
    Makes me sick espiecially when Americans try to lecture others about safety on other countries.

    If you live or about to travel to South Africa and you think it's dangerous there- let me suggest one thing.
    Come to the US and I will take you to several areas in Miami, NY, Detroit, LA, Chicago,... you name it.
    I guarantee you that if you make it alive to South Africa , you all finally feel safe there.
    Can anyone imagine the USA with , percentagewise of population, had the same amount of poor black people.
    This county would cease to exist.

    Greeting from Phoenix, by the way the second capital of kindnapping in the world.
  • edited 4:17AM
    Dear Arizonan - am estatic that you enjoyed South Africa - its a fantastic country with huge potential. Unfortunately it is far from perfect and I know the risks are far greater than mature countries so greater care needs to be taken. The quality of life certainly far superior to Europe due to its fantastic weather and lifestyle - if you have money....
  • edited 4:17AM
    I have just arrived from SA, Mozambique and Botswan for a three week drive through all countries. Crime is prevalent in these countries and people get murdered, raped and robbed but we must put it into some perspectives. First, violent crime strikes foremost in poor areas. That is where statistics is boosted. Non violent burglary in houses occur everywhere in these countries and is common. Therefore, for tourist we should consider most black african countries as non- easy going tourist countries for tourism with families or couples. However, they are not war-zones for tourists and crime may be avoided with some extra sensitivity, not necessarily needed to be applied in Malaysia or Syria.

    Do not walk around or drive everywhere at night (or day). Seek local advice. Try to evaluate persons you meet. Be polite with integrity. Know your goal. Do not flash your belongings. Be efficient. Do ot stop for anyone except the police. Do not leave anything/anyone behind. Keep duplicates on your ID:s.

    I have been passing crime areas around these countries in the dark. Not very smart but no problems. Take precautions. Go an extra mile for safe hotels or B&B:s. Good security fences and 24hr armed response signs indicates a safe haven for overnighters in SA.
  • edited 4:17AM
    Hello travelers,
    I've just returned from visiting Johannesburg and Cape Town South Africa for the third time Johannesburg because of business commitments and Cape Town for the shear pleasure. What a contrast the two cities and their surrounding areas appear to be. Cape Town is really a very lovely city and, although not completely safe (where is such a place theses days anyway), it is much safer than Johannesburg. It is entirely possible to move freely about in Cape town without looking for gangs of Taxi driving thugs and/or street muggers trying to trap and rob someone, as you would see in Johannesburg. By the way, differences in ethnicity does not provide immunity. Johannesburg is a crime ridden area with corruption from the top government leaders to the police officers that only protect theirs friends, which are the criminals you hoped they would protect you from. What a mess!! Visit Cape Town but, please avoid Johannesburg if at all possible. Can't wait to hear the backlash and lies from someone in the Department of Tourism telling you Johannesburg is safe.

  • edited 4:17AM
    I'm going to Sydnei Janeiro/12 and will scale in Johannesburg two days, one day I will know the Lion Park and another plan to use to know the sights of the city. I will be with car rental and GPS. I'm terrified of assault, I ... I would suggest that I can visit without taking risks.
  • edited 4:17AM
    Hi Meyre,

    It is a very good idea to have GPS in your rental car to make it easier to get around Joburg. Remember that you can be the victim of crime in any big city, so don't be afraid to visit Joburg!
  • edited 4:17AM
    South Africa is a wonderful country!!!!
Sign In or Register to comment.