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Traveller safety in Cape Town, concerned about NY Times report

Traveller safety in Cape Town, concerned about NY Times report

Old Aug 14, 19, 8:56 pm
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Traveller safety in Cape Town, concerned about NY Times report

Was anxious to head to CPT in Q1 on the new UA route. Just read the NYT article below about the huge spike in gang violence and the military being called in to suppress. Is this just the NYT creating drama or is the city really dangerous? How dangerous relative to Chicago?

​​​​​https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/08/13/world/africa/cape-town-crime-military.amp.html
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Old Aug 14, 19, 9:10 pm
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Originally Posted by spartacusmcfly View Post
Was anxious to head to CPT in Q1 on the new UA route. Just read the NYT article below about the huge spike in gang violence and the military being called in to suppress. Is this just the NYT creating drama or is the city really dangerous? How dangerous relative to Chicago? ...
This seems like a better topic for the Africa Destination forum as it is not a direct UA issue.

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Old Aug 15, 19, 2:13 am
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As a tourist in Cape Town you will spend most of your time in the areas I circled in blue, the suburbs mentioned in the article are marked in red, so really nothing to worry about.


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Old Aug 15, 19, 3:33 am
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We are in cape town at the moment

every South African in Australia, news articles etc basically had us convinced we would be mugged at frequent intervals and murdered at least once

my observations
we havenít done any townships or anything but have done a fair bit of walking around less well trafficked but still central areas after dark. I havenít felt any more unsafe than I felt in London a few weeks before coming here. You have to be streetwise, there are beggars who can be fairly persistent (but polite and non threatening, just persistent), but it feels comparable with any other major city

i havenít been to Chicago for a long time but my brother works there half of the year (the other half in London) and he seems satisfied with the safety level in London
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Old Aug 15, 19, 7:03 am
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In my opinion Cape Town is not that dangerous.......because I've only been to the part of the city highlighted in Ditto's map. When I was there in 2017 I went with no plan, walked around places like green market square and used uber to get around.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 7:30 am
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Agree with Madone59 ... although admittedly we never walked out at night. In the main areas, apart from a few random beggars [usually easy to see and avoid], we found C.T. no worse than any other city. Just use common sense to get around.

That said, having done C.T. a couple of times, we now just head straight from CPT airport to the Winelands!
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Old Aug 15, 19, 8:37 am
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The area discussed in the article is not in the city itself. It is a township some distance away.

Having spent a fair bit of time in South Africa, I can confidently say that Cape Town is the safest of the major cities.

I don't know the statistics in relation to Chicago or other world cities, but my own experience is that incidents involving tourists are unlikely if you take the same sensible precautions as you would in Chicago, London or any other major cities.

My advice is:

1. Dress down. Try not to look wealthy. Casual clothes, little or no jewellery. Cheap rental car.

2. If (when) you are approached by beggars, plead poverty. Just tell them you don't have any money.

3. Don't worry too much. Things do happen in Cape Town, but the horror stories are, at least in my experience, isolated.

Cape Town has it issues and it certainly has its rough areas, but the vast majority of tourists are unlikely to encounter them.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 9:57 am
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Very helpful feedback -- especially the map! Thx to all!

Looking forward to my trip.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 10:01 am
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I live in CPT. Don't worry. And we're happy the national defense force is here to sort stuff out.

The map a previous poster shared is pretty helpful to highlight the concerned areas. I would like to point out though that the dangerous areas aren't necessarily townships (in the sense that they're unplanned, illegal or made up of shacks), but they are in the "Cape Flats" which is east of the city proper and most of the tourist stuff is along the Atlantic seaboard.

Don't he stupid and you'll be fine.

Last edited by skywardhunter; Aug 15, 19 at 12:02 pm
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Old Aug 15, 19, 11:15 am
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That would be East of the City, if in the Northern Hemisphere.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 12:34 pm
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Originally Posted by The_Bouncer View Post
1. Dress down. Try not to look wealthy. Casual clothes, little or no jeweler. Cheap rental car.
Amazing advise a surprising amount of people don't think about.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 1:41 pm
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Originally Posted by The_Bouncer View Post
Having spent a fair bit of time in South Africa, I can confidently say that Cape Town is the safest of the major cities.
Your confidence in your own opinion is misplaced.

"Cape Town ''has the highest rates of murder, robbery and property-related crimes'' while Tshwane ''has the lowest rates of murder, assault and sexual offences'' of all the nine cities analysed in South African Cities Network's State of Urban Safety in South Africa Report 2018/19."

Source 1 , source 2

Of course the vast majority of violent crime in SA is black or colored on black or colored, so to some extent the stats are irrelevant to sensible tourists who avoid high-crime areas and take other reasonable precautions.

If visitors to SA want to worry (an activity I don't recommend), then it is the horrendous road traffic fatality numbers. DUI, unlicensed drivers, unroadworthy vehicles and road rage are widespread and common, not restricted to certain townships or extremely violent rural areas (The highest homicide rates in SA are not recorded in cities, but in the countryside. Richmond in KZN has a homicide rate of 192 and in Sundays River Valley (welcome to Addo Elephant NP!) in the Eastern Cape it is 177. Those figures are sky high, way above those of the most violent countries in Latin America).

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Old Aug 15, 19, 2:17 pm
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I wouldn't over think it, but equally I wouldn't be complacent either.

Since the Mount Nelson robbery our company has rethought it's security model, I certainly wouldn't be walking around central CT in the evenings.

A good dose of common sense, and avoid standing out.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 2:42 pm
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Originally Posted by johan rebel View Post
.Your confidence in your own opinion is misplaced.

"Cape Town ''has the highest rates of murder, robbery and property-related crimes'' while Tshwane ''has the lowest rates of murder, assault and sexual offences'' of all the nine cities analysed in South African Cities Network's State of Urban Safety in South Africa Report 2018/19."

Source 1 , source 2

Of course the vast majority of violent crime in SA is black or colored on black or colored, so to some extent the stats are irrelevant to sensible tourists who avoid high-crime areas and take other reasonable precautions.

If visitors to SA want to worry (an activity I don't recommend), then it is the horrendous road traffic fatality numbers. DUI, unlicensed drivers, unroadworthy vehicles and road rage are widespread and common, not restricted to certain townships or extremely violent rural areas (The highest homicide rates in SA are not recorded in cities, but in the countryside. Richmond in KZN has a homicide rate of 192 and in Sundays River Valley (welcome to Addo Elephant NP!) in the Eastern Cape it is 177. Those figures are sky high, way above those of the most violent countries in Latin America).

Johan
Many valid points here. The vast majority of the people affected by the rates of violence are South Africans themselves, living in the townships. The areas tourists tend to frequent are not affected to anywhere near the same degree.

Again, I'm not saying bad things don't happen - they do. But the areas of Cape Town where tourists are likely to be are definitely not no-go areas.

Driving in South Africa can be dangerous. Quite apart from the major issues you have mentioned (all of which are very major issues), there are issues with wildlife, the general condition of some roads (often potholed and unlit) and the behaviour of pedestrians (people often walk around on the freeway and it is not uncommon for your headlamps to suddenly pick up someone wandering across an unlit freeway in the dark).

Again, sensible precautions. Try to avoid driving at night in unlit areas and if you are a nervous and/or inexperienced driver, just don't bother. Also, do not blindly follow your sat-nav. Do your research and know which places to avoid. Lock your car doors while driving in any city or town.

Having said all of this, I have never been involved in any significant incident in several multi-week tours of South Africa, mainly travelling solo. The chances are you will be absolutely fine, as long as you employ some basic street smarts.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 2:55 pm
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Originally Posted by The_Bouncer View Post
1. Dress down. Try not to look wealthy. Casual clothes, little or no jewellery. Cheap rental car.
Originally Posted by Madone59 View Post
Amazing advise a surprising amount of people don't think about.
It really makes a difference. If you walk around in expensive gear, flashing the cash and flaunting the gold, you are just making yourself a target.

When I visit South Africa - and other places - for the winter, I take my oldest and crappiest clothes (and usually throw most of them away at the end of the trip). I don't even bother having a haircut or trimming my beard. I literally walk around looking like a bum - and it works.
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