This will conclude this 3 part series on what I view as the dangers of South Africa. Again, this is the only country I've visited where I never felt completely safe.
In the first two parts of this series I discussed the danger of wild animals in the country. They can get up close to your vehicle and potentially cause a threat. Especially the elephants. I then discussed my encounter with a corrupt policeman. In this 3rd part I'll discuss the general unease I had throughout the country of being robbed or hijacked even.
My first stay in the country, before venturing into the more interesting areas, was in Pretoria. This is the Executive capital of the country (there are actually 3 capitals in South Africa). After my police incident I arrived at my hotel and was in need of their currency. I asked the front desk where's the nearest ATM. By now it was just turning dark. The lady at the desk told me it was about 1/2 kilometer (1/3 mile) down the road, but she advised against walking that street at night. This was a major lit street!
I asked her what about in the morning. She said it was safer but she recommended taking a taxicab. Really, for 1/3 mile walk? Anyway, the next morning I walked to the ATM without incident but I was quite nervous. It was a non event.
The next day I was off to Kruger National Park to the east. I would be driving about 6 hours on a major highway. Part way through the drive I began to encounter signs on the highway:
Signs that made it clear I was not to stop. I had never encountered this before. I, of course, continued to drive, happy I started with a full tank of gas.
As I continued driving there were more signs:
Well, nobody needs to tell me twice when it comes to my safety. I had no intentions of stopping. I drove the entire 314 miles to Kruger without stopping. Again, lucky my tank was full. So was my bladder when I arrived!
Later on this trip I visited Cape Yown. Wonderful area, however, I never felt safe in the city. Now Johannesburg is considered the least safe city in South Africa and Cape Town the safest, but it's only relative. There are gangs in Cape Town you need to avoid. They are territorial gangs so you need to know the city to know where to avoid them.
The hotel clerk informed me never to walk at night and always take a cab when venturing into the city. He told me there were many unsafe parts of the city to which one needs to be knowledgeable.
Well that kind of ruined it for me. Now I was looking behind my back at every corner. Always fearful I would be mugged.
Although nothing did happen I gave very few opportunities for them to occur. The only places I truly felt safe from crime were away from the highways and cities.
South Africa was still a very segregated country when I visited. There was still (probably still is) a lot of contempt for the white minority there. For good reason considering the history of that country. It made me feel uneasy at times,
Most every destination I visit I feel safe. This was an exception. Between the close animal encounters, corruption of the police force, and the crime areas of the country, this is a place you should remain cautious. But it should not deter anyone from visiting this beautiful country. I went back a second time!