Crime, like anywhere else in the world, can be a problem, but you really need not do much more than take all the usual sensible precautions. Know where you're going before you set off, particularly at night, watch your possessions, don't walk alone in dodgy areas, lock your doors at night. Much like anywhere else. And, like anywhere else in the world, there are some areas of major cities which are more dodgy than others. It is easy to avoid these and still have a good time.
When walking through areas that are considered risky, avoid wearing visible jewellery or carrying cameras and bags over your shoulder. Keep cellphones (mobile phones) and wallets tucked away where no one can see them. Check beforehand that the areas you plan to visit are safe by asking hotel staff or police. It is not advisable to use local commuter and metro trains as attacks on foreigners have occurred.
Other sensible advice is not to hitchhike or accept or carry items for strangers. Our airport security is quite strict so, to avoid delays in checking in, remove all sharp objects (even nail files and hairclips) from your hand luggage.
Those who choose to drive private cars, either borrowed or hired, should be aware that car hijackings do occur, although precautions can be taken to avoid this. Drivers should always be on the alert when they come to a halt at traffic lights or stop streets, as well as when they are arriving at or leaving premises. Doors should be locked at all times, and while the temptation is to keep windows open in sunny weather, they should be kept closed. Plan your travel route beforehand. Make sure that you do not leave valuables in clear view of people on the side of the road. Articles such as cellular phones and handbags left on seats are favoured targets of smash'n'grab thieves.
When parking at night choose well-lit or security-patrolled parking areas. Street security guards will usually ask whether they can watch over your car and in return should be paid a small fee - anything from two rand upwards.
ATMs and con artists
Watch out for con artists. A favoured target is the automated teller machine ATM). Under no circumstances allow a stranger to assist you in your transactions. Should your card become stuck in the ATM, enter your PIN three times whereupon the machine will retain your card. You can then approach the bank to release it, or call the helpline number that can usually be found at ATMs for assistance.
Beware, too, of confidence tricksters who try and persuade you to invest in their schemes, requiring you to disclose confidential banking details.
Stay out of jail!
And, while on the subject of crime, do bear in mind that committing a criminal offence in any foreign country is always more of a problem than doing so at home. You're probably not planning to, but there are a few actions which could land you in one of our not-too-luxurious jails. These include smuggling, bilking, and trading in, or using, recreational drugs - with the exception of tobacco and alcohol. Poaching is probably far from your mind but, just in case you're tempted to "harvest" a rhino horn as a souvenir, remember our game scouts are armed.
Should you lose your passport, report the loss as soon as possible to your country's embassy or consulate, and to the local police.
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