Is South Africa A Safe or Dangerous Country?Because of a very high inequality index, South Africa is a country with a high crime rate, some parts of the cities are to be absolutely avoided by travelers, and tourists are prime targets for petty theft. South Africa is ranked 112th on the ranking of world’s safest countries. Still, most tourists travel unharmed, so don’t let the crime spoil your vacation, but on the other hand don’t let negligence ruin your trip. Stay alert and be aware. It is advised to travel with tour guides when going to remote locations or visiting the cities (the risks are higher in the cities : jump to the part on Johannesburg for more details.) The main threats for tourists are muggings, theft, scams and carjacking. If you fly to South Africa, be careful : O.R. Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg) is known for petty theft: there have been many reports of items stolen from passenger luggage, and the pilferage rate is twice as high as in other airports. Keep your valuables in hand luggage, and consider wrapping your luggage with cling-wrap (or any other luggage security apparatus) to deter potential thieves. To prevent snatch-and-grab attacks, do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, consider using a money pouch or belt, hide your camera, leave your passport in the safe of your hotel. It is unadvised to take public transport if you are travelling alone in large cities – prefer taking taxis or renting your own car. If you rent a car, be very careful : South Africa has one of the highest rates of traffic accidents in the world. Beware of wild animals crossing the road , if you are in a reserve keep your distance with elephants and other large animals. When you stop at a traffic light at night, always leave enough room between your car and the car in front of you : it is a common carjacking manoeuvre to block your car in order to rob you; if you leave enough space you could get around the other car. At least 30 cars are carjacked every day in South Africa. Be alert around ATMs, as there have been many reports of scams involving stealing your cash, your card and memorizing your PIN. Always use ATMs in populous areas, refuse any “help” from strangers, if the withdrawal fails retrieve your card and try another ATM. Park in well lit areas and never leave valuables in your car. As unlikely as it is, if you ever get mugged or carjacked, DO NOT RESIST. Your assailants could think that you are armed, and could shoot you. The nationwide emergency number is the 112. For National Tourism safety advice, call +27 (0)83 123-2345. For more details, see city specific advice or take a look at our travel articles. The following map from the Australian Foreign Ministry doesn’t give much details, head to http://www.crimestatssa.com/ for a much more detailed view.
Warnings & Dangers
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
South Africa is a dangerous country with a high crime rate – although travelers are very rarely targeted. It is ranked 112th out of 162 on the ranking of the safest and most dangerous countries.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
There is a medium pickpocket-related risk in South Africa, in public transport and crowds. A few simple precautions will minimize your chances of being pickpocketed.
MUGGING RISK : HIGH
South Africa is a dangerous country regarding risks of mugging and kidnapping, urban areas are better avoided late at night, and it is recommended to travel in private cars. They were over 4,000 kidnapping cases in 2014.
SCAMS RISK : HIGH
There are a lot of scammers and con-artists trying to take advantage of tourists, particularly in large cities and around major landmarks in South Africa. Beware of weird people around ATMs, groups of teenagers acting strangely or trying to distract you; and people offering help with your luggage.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Public transport should be avoided for solo travelers at night, although the Gautrain in Johannesburg is mostly safe. There is a high risk of traffic accidents, as well as carjacking.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
There can be some occasional natural hazards in South Africa. Beware of wild animals.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
South Africa is a very safe country in respect to terrorist threats.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
There has been several reports of attacks and shaming of women travelers. Do not venture alone in shady neighborhoods of large cities, or isolated villages.