The UK government has updated its travel advice for South Africa, highlighting key safety and security concerns.
UK travellers visiting South Africa warned to take heed of these alerts
The recent update, posted on Friday, 10 November 2023, on the UK government’s travel advisory page, addresses several pressing safety issues for travellers to South Africa.
Smash and grab attacks
The advisory specifically mentions the prevalence of ‘smash and grab’ attacks on vehicles, particularly in less secure areas around Johannesburg and Cape Town’s international airports.
Additionally, the UK travel advice update emphasises the high crime rate in South Africa, including carjacking, house robbery, rape, sexual assault, and murder.
It notes that these violent crimes can occur anywhere, even in popular tourist destinations and transport hubs. While most violent crimes happen in townships on the outskirts of major cities or in isolated areas, the threat is notably higher in central business districts of major cities, especially after dark.
However, the risk of violent crime for visitors in the main tourist cities is generally low, with additional security personnel often present in these areas.
Despite this, the advisory recommends constant vigilance due to limited policing and security in some regions.
Key personal safety tips outlined in the update include avoiding displaying valuables, not leaving valuables in cars, using safe and reliable transportation, staying alert, avoiding walking around after dark, travelling in groups, and ensuring someone is aware of your travel plans.
When visiting townships, it is advised to only go with a responsible and reliable tour guide.
Life jackets and water safety
The update also provides guidance for water safety.
It warns of strong sea currents and advises requesting life jackets when participating in water sports.
For beach safety, it suggests speaking to locals familiar with the conditions and swimming only between the designated red and yellow flags on busier tourist beaches, while heeding lifeguard instructions and warning signs.