Saturday, August 29, 2009

Travel Advisory

The following was issued the day after I returned from South Africa. It was issued as part of a routine weekly travel advisory to everyone in my father's company:

South Africa:

Violent crime risks underlined by robbery of a US national
near Johannesburg airport. A group of armed men on 26 August attacked and robbed a US national on the R21 highway. The target was traveling in a taxi en route to the Sun City tourist resort in North West province from OR Tambo International Airport (JNB), which serves the country's largest city Johannesburg (Gauteng province).

Comment and Analysis:

The attack serves to underline the continuing risk of violent crime, which poses a significant risk to travelers; business visitors may be targeted because of their perceived wealth. Crime rates in South Africa are high, with carjacking, armed robbery and mugging especially prevalent, and the perpetrators of such attacks often use firearms.

Incidents in which travelers are followed from airports and subsequently robbed have risen in recent months, and similar attacks have targeted people withdrawing money from banks and automated teller machines (ATMs) in cities.

No area of cities can be considered to be immune from crime; such activity, especially carjackings, may take place in residential areas and the central business district (CBD). The most common forms of criminal activity remain car and truck hijacks, muggings and break-ins at residences and business premises. In addition to Johannesburg, levels of crime are highest in the cities of Cape Town (Western Cape province) and Durban (KwaZulu-Natal province).

In a recent high-profile incident, at least three armed assailants on 25 August robbed a jewellery store in the Kenilworth Centre shopping centre (mall), in Cape Town's southern Claremont suburb; the suspects reportedly escaped in a hired car. On the same day, fleeing robbers fatally shot a security guard at a shopping centre in Gauteng province, and at least three people were killed during similar crimes near Johannesburg during August. Prior to these incidents, an Indian national shot on 2 July by armed robbers at the former's residence in Johannesburg on 7 July died of his injuries.

Although President Jacob Zuma's administration has acknowledged the magnitude of the threat posed by violent crime in the country, initiatives undertaken to tackle the problem are unlikely to bear fruit in the short term.

Travel Advice

* High rates of crime pose a significant risk to travelers in South Africa. Exercise heightened caution and stringent security measures at all times and in all areas. Accommodation and transport decisions should be made with attention to the risks posed by crime.
* When traveling by car, personnel are advised to keep car doors locked at all times and roll down windows as little as possible, avoid exiting the vehicle while leaving the engine running - for instance to remove a flyer placed on the windscreen - and avoid ostentatious displays of wealth.
* Criminals are commonly armed; in the event of being accosted do nothing to resist or antagonize assailants.
* Travelers are reminded to refer to our standing travel advice.

I knew that my personal perceptions of the increased crime threat in South Africa couldn't be too far off. It's so sad because it is such a beautiful country.

1 comment:

Midwife with a Knife said...

I'm trying to decide if I should let this dissuade me from visiting. :( I don't want to be a crime victim, but I do want to see the beauty of S. Africa.