If you heed the usual sensible precautions and follow some basic safety rules, you can avoid most petty theft and instead be able to enjoy the beauty and full African experience this warm, beautiful country has to offer.
Welcome to South Africa.
Safety at Hotels in South Africa
Never leave your luggage or possessions unattended. Keep your hotel keys on you. Store your valuables, passport, air tickets and travel documents in the hotel’s safety deposit box and keep your room door locked. Report any suspicious behaviour to the hotel staff or reception. Carry certified copies of your passport on you at all times.
Travelling in a car in South Africa
To avoid being hijacked, keep the doors locked at all times and wind the windows up. Lock all valuables in the trunk of the car. Never pick up strangers, and if you are lost phone a police station for advice. Be vigilant at intersections. Park in well-lit areas at night and don’t leave your car unattended. After you park your car and lock it, check the doors again to ensure it is properly locked to avoid being a victim of ‘remote-jamming’. If your car is hired, make sure you have the rental company’s number on hand.
Airport Safety Tips
Once you’ve booked your flight, the next thing to think about is how to keep your luggage safe at the airport. Make sure your luggage is locked and has name tags. Ensure that your luggage is wrapped in plastic wrap, which is available at most international airports. Keep certified copies of your passport, flight tickets, accommodation and rental hire documents in your hand luggage or on yourself. Do not allow your luggage to be seperated from yourself or to be tampered by other people. Try as much as possible to keep your valuables (jewellery, technology, luxury items) in your hand luggage.
At Restaurants or Malls in South Africa
Try your best to be aware of your surroundings. Do not leave valuables like cell phones and wallets lying on a restaurant table. Don’t leave your handbags or shopping bags under the table or hooked on your chair. Try to gather all of your parcels and bags and leave it in one spot so it is easy to keep an eye on it. Never leave your drinks unattended.
Stick to hiking with a group of people and always follow the instructions of your tour guide. Keep away from isolated areas, especially if you are alone. Carry a reliable map with emergency contact numbers should you get lost.
ATM safety and Credit Card safety in South Africa
When using automatic teller machines (ATMs) in South Africa, ensure that no one is standing over you and watching your transaction. Never assist the next person with their transaction, as this will distract you from your valuables. Never accept an offer from a stranger to help you with your transaction. If you have problems with your bank card, approach the bank or call the helpline on the ATM. When using your credit/debit card for purchases, especially at restaurants, ask the waiter to bring the portable credit card machine to your table. Do not hand over your card to the waiter/waitress. Report stolen or lost cards immediately.
Safety tips when walking on the streets of South Africa
Avoid walking in deserted areas or walking alone in isolated areas. If you need to go anywhere at night, ask the hotel to call a reliable taxi for you. Never take a lift with strangers. Always carry your cell phone and emergency numbers with you. Do not keep large sums of money on you, or ostentatious jewellery, visible camera equipment or large body bags/handbags. Keep most of your items tucked in your clothing and out of view.
Dial 10111 (from a landline) or dial 112 (from your cell phone) for the police and briefly explain your emergency. These calls are free. You can also call the National Tourism Information and Safety Line on 083 123 2345.
Tourists are generally more susceptible to crime in a new country so we highly recommend that as long as you remain aware of your surroundings you can enjoy your time in South Africa and stay safe!