For many Nigerians, South Africa is one of the top options for vacation, education and medical trips. Despite being a lovely country, South Africa has some of the world’s highest crime rates. You will find in this article tips for hotel, outdoors, and airport safety while visiting South Africa, including national emergency service numbers.
Emergency Service Numbers (Police, Ambulance, Fire Brigade Service, & South African Tourism Helpline)
Below are helplines to contact in cases of emergency while in South Africa.
- For emergencies related to crime, dial 10111 to contact the South African Police Service (SAPS). Stay calm while you briefly explain your emergency.
- Alternatively, you can still reach the police by dialling 112.
- As a tourist, you can dial 083 123 2345 from a landline or a cellphone to get hold of South Africa’s National Tourism Information and Safety.
- For fire emergencies, call 10177 for help. They can also provide you with medical assistance.
- There are private ambulances for medical help; you can contact Netcare on 911 – 082 911. You can also call the Mediclinic ER24 on 084 124, and you would get a swift medical emergency team at your aid. Please note that you will pay the hospital bill for your medical care without a medical aid subscription.
Find below tourist safety tips while on vacation in South Africa
Hotel Safety tips
For most visitors, staying at the hotel may be the only option, and hotels in South Africa can provide all the comfort you need. However, it would be best to stay safe in hotels, as they are not free from criminal intrusions.
Although you might find some security installations like electric fences and CCTV cameras in place, things can still go wrong. In choosing a hotel, try to learn about the location and the surrounding environment. This can help with selecting a safe place to stay. On arrival at your hotel room, conduct an inspection, and ensure all locks are working perfectly. If you find the room locks bad, call the hotel service.
With the common cases of thefts in hotels, it would help to keep your valuables safe in a lock. Do not get tempted to showcase valuables on your hotel room windows or keep them lying about in your room.
Also, it would help if you never tried leaving your luggage and other valuables unattended. To avoid burglary, always carry your hotel keys with you at all times. Most hotels are modern and have secured deposit boxes; you can use them to store your travel documents, travel ticket, and international passport.
Safety in South Africa while outdoors
While outdoors, there are more significant security risks, and adhering strictly to South African outdoor safety tips would be beneficial. Some tips you should consider when outdoors include the following:
- Keep your bags and valuables close
It is quite common to face some threats like theft if your bags and valuables are kept some distance away while outdoors. It would be best if you keep them close to you always. Zip your bags and keep them near; do not leave them lying around chairs and tables while outdoors.
- Stay vigilant in large Gatherings
Crime lurks around amidst crowds; therefore, it is beneficial to stay vigilant in places with large groups. If you notice any suspecting movements, try to leave immediately and alert local security.
- Take Cognizance of your Surroundings
As you move around, always ensure that you stay aware of your immediate surrounding. Try to note any suspecting movements around you, and if you feel things are not right, do not hesitate to leave and get help from nearby security. Always walk with your head up, accessing the area for any suspicious signs of danger. Try to avoid night movements, especially if you are alone.
- Beware of Suspicious Strangers
There are several reports of pickpocketing. If you start getting compliments from a stranger in public like “nice phone, can I have a look?” Please step away and don’t allow them to step into your personal space.
- Go Hiking in Groups
When going hiking, try to go with a group. There have been cases of attack on hikers at Table Mountain National Park, for instance. While in groups, follow popular trails that can quickly get access to help in case of danger.
Places in the park that seem quiet can be unsafe, especially during the day’s early hours and towards the park’s closing time. There are hiking organizations on social media, which ensures that people go hiking in groups. You can join any of these open hiking groups for safety.
Safety in South Africa while in a car
When it comes to safety in South Africa, being in your car doesn’t keep you from criminals’ attacks. There are also reports of carjacking occurrences, with many violent attacks happening both day and night. Bear in mind some of these safety tips below:
- Locking car doors and trunks, and winding up car windows
Having decided on moving about in a private car, ensure you lock all doors and wind up all windows. This safety act will help prevent criminals from gaining entry into your car. All valuables in the car trunk will stay safe if you lock them in.
- Drive through Safe Routes
Before embarking on any trip within South Africa, plan on choosing the safest routes. This action is more applicable in the evenings or at night and, if possible, avoid driving through isolated areas alone.
- Stay Alert
As you drive around in your car, stay alert, especially at every traffic stop.
- Only Contact Trusted Transport Services
Don’t just flag down and enter any car. It would be best to contact a trusted transport company and book their services ahead. Furthermore, if the contacted transport vehicle arrives, always confirm the car’s plate number to ensure your safety.
- Be Aware of Suspicious Movements
Most common criminal attacks occur after a prolonged trailing of the victim. So, always watch if there are vehicles following you continuously. In such a case, speed up and try to move to a populated route and not forget to contact the police.
Meanwhile, it would also help if you stay away from substances that are likely to impair your ability to drive and judge situations. While driving, avoid giving lifts to strangers, as some may be criminals in disguise. Furthermore, ensure you park your car in safe areas and at night, park in only well-lit areas.
Airport safety tips
Below are some airport safety tips while arriving in South Africa or checking out of the country:
- Avoid hanging around once you are done with your security checks.
- It would help if you travel light; pack only necessary items.
- Your jewellery and other smaller valuables should fit in your hand luggage, and make sure you keep them close to you.
- In any emergency case, contact airport security as soon as possible.
- Always lock your travel bags and get name tags attached to them for easy identification.
- It’s helpful if you get your luggage wrapped in plastic wraps made available at the airport.
- Please do not leave your travel documents lying around or leave them in the custody of strangers as you wait for your flight.
- All copies of your International passport, tickets, rental documents, and accommodation documents should be kept in a safe place.
- If possible, keep your luggage separate from that of others to keep them safe.
It is not advisable to sleep at the airport but if there is a flight delay, try to do the following:
- Check for the nearest hotel, and consider sleeping there. Although this option may seem expensive, it assures you of your safety. Some airports have onsite hotels; you can make use of their services.
- If you have to sleep overnight at the airport, try to research the airport’s sleeping options. Check if you can access their storage facilities for your luggage; if available, try to keep your luggage there for safety.
- If you sleep in the airport having your luggage with you, try not to sleep deep. You can set the alarm to help wake you occasionally. You can try to use your luggage as a pillow to ensure they don’t go missing.
- If you are travelling first-class, you can make use of the airport lounge.
General safety tips
Whether at the mall or restaurant, you should try to take some precautions to help you stay safe. Remember, no one is immune to mugging, and it can happen anywhere.
- As you go shopping, don’t get carried away. Stay alert.
- At the restaurant, do not consume anything that you had left unattended. You can make a new order or ensure you finish eating or drinking before attending to other issues.
- Ensure you properly arrange all your belongings at a safe spot.
- Moving about with big handbags may expose you to danger; try to keep some things out of sight. Avoid keeping your bags below or on top of the restaurant table and not leaving them on the chairs.
- The reoccurring attacks at ATM make that spot unsafe. If you are using the ATM in South Africa, stay alert.
- As you go about your transaction, look around, and ensure you are not being watched. Do not perform any dealings with your bank card when you notice any person standing closeby to you. They may peep through and get hold of your details, which they can use in stealing from you.
- Try not to accept help from strangers while using your ATM card; instead, go to the bank and seek help. There are bank helplines listed on the machines; you can call them for help.
- In making purchases, do not hand your card to the salesperson to make payments. Allow them to bring the portable card machine to you and make the transactions yourself.
- If your ATM card gets stolen or missing, contact your bank to report it quickly.
- If you would be staying with a family member or friend in South Africa, always inform them about your outings. Give them details of the places you would be visiting, and call them if there is a plan change.