How to be safe if you are a tourist in South Africa

Tourists in town

As always, personal safety is a matter of shared responsibility between the authorities and the individual. To ensure that your visit is special and safe, as a tourist in South Africa (perhaps in Ladysmith visiting the battle sites), here are a few suggestions based on international guidelines.

AT THE AIRPORT

Make sure your bags and luggage have locks and name tags.
Do not allow people to tamper with your bags.
When seeking directions, proceed to marked information counters only.

AT THE HOTEL, GUESTHOUSE OR OTHER ACCOMMODATION

Report any suspicious, unattended luggage or parcels to the personnel at reception.
Never leave your luggage unattended unless it is locked away in your room.
Store valuables in the safety deposit box.
Keep your room locked.
If someone knocks, check who it is before opening the door. Contact reception if you have any reason for concern.
Hand your keys in whenever you leave.
Make sure that luggage is only given to the bell staff and a receipt is issued for stored luggage.

ON THE STREET

Avoid displaying expensive jewellery, cameras, mobile phones and other valuables.
Keep your handbag with you, keep it closed or zipped, and do not leave it unattended.
Keep your mobile phone with you and do not leave it unattended.
Do not carry large sums of money with you.
Exchange your currency at a bank or at the hotel – never exchange it on the street.
Carry your wallet in an inside pocket – never in the rear pocket of your trousers.
Credit card transactions must be processed in your presence.
At night, stay away from dark, isolated areas.
It is always better to explore in groups and to stick to well-lit, busy streets.
Plan your route beforehand and, as far as possible, do not ask directions from strangers.
A police officer or traffic officer will be happy to direct you if you get lost.
Should you want to call a taxi, your hotel or the South African Tourism helpline (0831236789) can recommend a reliable service.

IN YOUR VEHICLE

Plan your route in advance.
Keep the doors locked and wind the windows up at all times.
Do not leave your mobile phone or other valuables where they are visible from outside the vehicle.
Lock valuable items in the boot (trunk) before your departure.
At night, park in well-lit areas.
Never pick up strangers or hitchhikers.
If in doubt about the safety of an area, phone a police station for advice and help.
Make sure you have the number of the car rental company at hand in case you get stranded.

ON HIKING TRAILS

In the interest of personal safety and having assistance in the case of a physical or medical emergency, it is advisable to explore trails in groups.
Steer away from isolated areas unless accompanied by a guide.

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  AUTHOR
Saish Motheram
Journalist

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