Safety is a foregrounded concern when travelling to South Africa. Especially with the additional travel ban that has been implemented against high-risk countries due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak.
For those who are still able to and need to travel— it is important to be aware of the potential threats one may be exposed to and what preventative measures can be taken to ensure your overall safety and security. In light of the Coronavirus worldwide outbreak, some extra safety measures may need to be taken into account.
1. High-Risk Crime Zones
Crime in certain regions of South Africa is exponentially higher than others. Underdeveloped and deprived areas are more likely to be exposed to violent criminal acts. It’s advised that you research the area you’re visiting in order to prevent travellers from unknowingly entering into these areas. Therefore, confirm with your travel agent that your trip or itinerary does not include these locations. If it is necessary to travel in or through these parts, be sure to leave extreme valuables and travel documents at your accommodation. Do not expose large amounts of cash and preferably do not travel alone.
2. Transport Safety Measures
Transportation to Avoid:
- Do not accept transport from independent cab or taxi services. They may be innocent but there are those who are waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting international tourists. Use a taxi service that is accredited and recognised with major airports, shopping centres, and hotels.
- Transportation systems such as minibuses and metro-buses are not advised for overseas tourists. Mini-buses operate between major townships, which can be high-risk crime zones. Metro buses are also used for local commuting to and from work and are not the safest form of transportation. These transportation systems may also be overcrowded and packed with people who could potentially be carrying COVID-19.
- Where the Gautrain would usually be the go-to form of transportation—connecting OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg and Pretoria; in light of the Coronavirus pandemic – public transportation of any kind is advised against in order to prevent and lower the risk of contamination.
- Do not hitch-hike under any circumstances as this will make you a target for robbery or violent acts of crime.
Transportation options to consider:
- Uber’s credit card app facility option helps prevent your on-hand cash, which is an important factor to consider when travelling in South Africa. Make sure to utilise Uber’s Real-Time ID check in order to confirm that the Uber driver’s identity matches that of the driver collecting.
- Renting a car is a safe option that many tourists consider and is relatively cost-effective for international tourists due to the current exchange rate. Ensure that navigation means are on hand to avoid getting lost or wandering into unsafe areas. Lock car doors and close windows at traffic lights, intersections and stop signs.
- Secure Airport transport is the only option to fully guarantee safety and security. Met on arrival, escorted to your transportation, and driven by an experienced security driver trained in defensive driving offers the most affirmative certainty to security and safety.
3. Coronavirus Safety Precautions
The Coronavirus has brought with it numerous issues that could jeopardize the safety of locals and tourists alike. As an already economically strained country grows desperate, crime rates may escalate.
Many South Africans who work in the domestic or service industry may lose their jobs almost immediately as people self-quarantine. Lack of income coupled with lack of resources, as people continue to panic-buy in bulk, could send the already high crime rates soaring.
On top of the travel precautions previously mentioned, other factors should be taken into account:
Home Invasion Risks
While staying in high-end hotels or other safe accommodation options may reduce the risk of belongings being raided, it could increase the risk of viral infection. Hotels have a high guest turn-over and human-to-human contact will be difficult to avoid.
Renting residential property may reduce your risk of contamination due to large crowd avoidance. If concerns about the risk of invasion arise, this may be controlled with the hiring of an executive protection agent to increase the home’s security and handle potential incidents.
Beware of Scams!
Scams are common in South Africa – from pickpockets, drink spiking, and ATM scams to unofficial cab drivers and guides at tourist destinations. In these situations, do not give people the benefit of the doubt and keep your wits about you.
A new scam is circulating as Netcare warns the public of criminals masquerading as officials conducting COVID-19 home screenings. They claim to be “assisting the Department of Health with door-to-door screening for Covid-19.” Unknowing tourists may fall victim to this pretence of a protocol. Therefore, be alert and aware, do not let anyone inside your residence and alert SAPS (South African Police Department) at once.
South Africa is a beautiful country, full of natural beauty and cultural diversity. The Coronavirus has left the future of tourism uncertain, but for those who are able to or have essential obligations and commitments, taking the necessary safety precautions should be of the highest importance. Click here to utilise our protection services!
Put your safety first!