South Africa | SafeTravel

  • Reviewed: 9 May 2022, 15:44 NZST
  • Still current at: 9 August 2022
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COVID-19

If you are planning international travel at this time, please read our COVID-19 related travel advice here, alongside our destination specific travel advice below.

Exercise increased caution

Exercise increased caution in South Africa due to violent crime.

South Africa

Crime
There is a very high level of violent crime in South Africa, which includes mugging, murder, sexual assault, carjacking, armed robbery and kidnapping. While most travellers are likely to experience a trouble-free visit, there is a serious risk of crime, particularly in city centres and townships. Although crime occurs at all hours, the risk significantly increases at night.  

Carjacking and theft from vehicles is a concern in South Africa, including car windows being broken and valuables taken while vehicles are stopped at intersections. When travelling by car, it is advisable to keep doors locked and windows up at all times, hide valuables from view and remain vigilant at intersections. Do not stop to assist with vehicle breakdowns, clear debris from the road or pick up hitchhikers. Criminals have posed as police officers asking for identification to rob tourists.Particular care should be taken with luggage and personal belongings in and around all airports. Where possible, luggage should be locked in secure plastic film. Criminals have followed tourists from the airport and later robbed them. Be particularly vigilant around the airport. Unsolicited offers of assistance with baggage and transportation arrangements, other than from official porters, should be declined. 

Automatic teller machine (ATM) and ‘card skimming’ crimes are common. Criminals may loiter near machines to rob people making withdrawals. New Zealanders are advised to maintain security awareness when using an ATM, refuse offers of ‘help’, only withdraw small amounts, and avoid using them outside business hours. It may be safer to use ATMs located within a bank or shopping mall.

New Zealanders are advised to be conscious of personal safety at all times. We recommend you avoid travel after dark and to isolated areas and avoid displaying or wearing items that appear valuable, such as mobile devices, cameras and jewellery. If you are confronted by an armed individual, immediately comply and avoid resisting, as this could lead to an escalation in violence.

Terrorism
There is a threat of terrorism in South Africa. New Zealanders in South Africa are advised to keep themselves informed of potential risks to safety and security by monitoring the media and other local information sources. We recommend following any instructions issued by the local authorities and exercising vigilance in public places.

Civil unrest
Strikes and demonstrations occur from time to time in South Africa. There have been outbreaks of violence primarily directed toward refugees and other African migrants throughout South Africa. Violence could occur again at short notice and bystanders could be caught up.

New Zealanders are advised to avoid all demonstrations, protests and rallies as they have the potential to turn violent. You should not attempt to cross roadblocks. We recommend you monitor the local media to keep up to date with local events and follow any instructions issued by the local authorities.

Scams
Commercial and internet fraud is common in South Africa. New Zealanders should be wary of any offers that seem too good to be true, as they may be a scam.

Fake internet relationship schemes operate from some African countries. Be wary, do not meet up with or send money to any person you have any doubt about.

For further information see our advice on Internet Fraud and International Scams.

Hiking
Attacks against hikers have occurred at reserves, hiking trails, national parks, including Table Mountain, and other tourist attractions. To help prevent attacks, hike in a group and be aware of your surroundings and circumstances.

Public transport
Avoid using public transport, including buses, trains and minibuses. The ‘Gautrain’ high speed commuter train service which runs between Johannesburg, Pretoria and the Oliver Tambo International Airport, as well as the Blue Train and Ravos Rail, are, however, considered to be generally safe for tourists.

Travelling on foot is inadvisable in most areas. If walking is unavoidable, walk in busy and brightly lit streets and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid walking after dark.

Road conditions are generally good, but roads in the rural and more remote areas may be less maintained. Road safety is an issue due to poor driving habits and poorly maintained vehicles. Avoid driving after dark and be vigilant when the vehicle is stationary, including traffic lights, stop signs and motorway off-ramps. Ensure that the vehicle doors and locked and windows are closed at all times.

General travel advice
The South African Department of Home Affairs has updated travel regulations relating to travel with children. For more information on these changes please see the South African Department of Home Affairs website.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe and can include lengthy imprisonment or fines.

New Zealand/South African dual citizens should be aware of the requirement for all dual citizens to enter South Africa on their South African passport. If you are not sure about your citizenship status, you should contact the nearest South African High Commission or Embassy, or the South African Department of Home Affairs.  

New Zealanders living or travelling in South Africa should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.

New Zealanders in South Africa are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips

The New Zealand High Commission Pretoria, South Africa

Street Address 125 Middel Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk, 0181 Pretoria, South Africa Postal Address Private Bag X27, Brooklyn Square 0075, Pretoria, South Africa Telephone +27 12 435 9000 Email enquiries@nzhc.co.za Web Site http://www.mfat.govt.nz/south-africa Hours Mon – Fri 0800 – 1630hrs

See our regional advice for Africa

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