Friday 30 March 2012

A Brit's opinion on safety in South Africa

Last tuesday I was in Soweto...yeah so what? We went and did the tourist bits, Hector Pieterson Museum, Nelson Mandela's house, stopping off for lunch in the mall.

I drove myself there, armed with the GPS, following the same route we did when as a family when we were shown around by a former resident, a colleague of my husband.

It was safe. I felt safe on both visits. The roads are tarmac'd there are pavements, shops, markets, schools, hospital, soccer stadiums. (Don't forget it was less than 2 years ago the World Cup was held there. I've also been to Ellis Park, right in the centre of Johannesburg for the Vodacom challenge when Spurs beat the Orlando Pirates last July. I've sat in my car with the window open at a game reserve, unaware a fully grown lion was sat at the back of my car.

How dangerous can it be? with all those events and people around. Ievery person I've spoken to this week here says they've never been into Soweto and don't plan on going there either.

Well I've never felt threatened or scared since we moved here in January 2011. I tell a lie I was shit scared when we arrived here, based on the media stories, based on information from South Africans we knew in the UK. Every bloody person we've met has a horror story to tell us. Police robbing them, held hostage at gun point, car jacking, break ins. You name it and it seems every South African has been a victim of everything. However when you get down to details they admit that they were in an area they knew not to be safe, or were driving at night, or it was their neighbours, brothers, best mates, mothers cat sitter.

Yes some terrible things go on here in South Africa, but they go on at home in the UK also and other countries.

Since we've been here there have been riots in the UK, a massacre in Denmark, protests in Egypt and other countries, lives have been lost, a tsunami in Japan following the earthquake there last March and what about.......?

A country is as safe as you make it, you take extra care when you go away on holiday, more than you do with your house and belongings if you were just popping to the shops. You sling your handbag over your shoulder when you go into the big cities, but have it sat on the seat nest to you in the car when you pop to the local supermarket near home. Why? Why do we feel safe on our downstep but not when we leave our safety zone.
I had my handbag removed my shoulder in a crowded place 1 mile from home, just before christmas our neighbour in the UK was fast asleep in her bed when someone broke into her house, robbed her and used her car to take the goods away, burning the car out less than 2 miles away. The man in Kidderminster, 25 miles away, found dead after 3 weeks in his flat.

I'm sure if we all sat down together we could all scare one another silly with our 'horror' stories and personal experiences, but that is life I'm afraid to say. It's just not safe anywhere, anymore is it?

To demonstrate this take a look at the UK and some of the crimes that have happened in the last few weeks, no real difference from the ones you hear about here.

But before you do, do you remember the honeymoon couple in Cape Town where they were hijacked and she was murdered in 2010? Which turned out the husband brought her here so he could cover up the crime and blame the dangers of South Africa? Well he was British and lived not far from where we moved from. News story from the BBC on the day we arrived in South Africa.

Man shot in Canary Wharf remains in a coma. 27/03/2012

Kwame OFOSU-ASARE murdered aged 17. Lambeth. 03/02/2012

Man exposes himself to 13 year old in Hastings. 21/03/2012

Woman in attempted car-jacking in Belfast, badly shaken. 29/03/2012
I see Car Jacking isn't just a South African thing either, Crimestoppers have a whole page to protect yourself, the advice is the same here.

Armed robbery in Bangor. 29/03/2012

Asian homes being targetted by burglars for Gold. Leicester (on going)

BT announces new device to prevent cable theft. 26/03/2012

67 children were trafficked FROM Africa TO the UK, 29 of whom were from Nigeria, mostly female and were sexually exploited. 2012

Check out the Crime levels in your area in the UK .


  1. In 5 yrs in South Africa I am yet to experience any crime (touch wood...). Seriously as long as you are sensible, lock your possessions away, keep burgler alarm on, and don't walk around remote areas with expensive gadgets (basically the same precautions you would take anywhere in the world) it is not so hard to avoid getting into difficult situations.

    The animals on the other hand...Eish... We have baboons in the house, cobras and puff adders in the garden, great white sharks swimming past me in the sea and elephants surrounding us at a picnic table in Addo. Windows wide open with a lion behind you.... woah...not done that one yet.

  2. Sorry I actually meant Norway not Denmark, but my iPod isn't allowing me to edit this post at the moment.

  3. I love it here in South Africa, enjoy your visit

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