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Is it safe in and around Cape Town?

London, United...
Level Contributor
2 posts
6 reviews
Is it safe in and around Cape Town?

I am travelling to camps bay with my husband early May.

We are hiring a car and wish to drive into Cape Town, houts bay, table mountain and cape point before our journey onto Mossel bay. I have heard to be careful not to stray off the main routes and that mugging and theft are writhe. Is this true or is it safe in and around Cape Town?

7 replies to this topic
Pretoria, South...
Level Contributor
54 posts
1 review
1. Re: Is it safe in and around Cape Town?

Cape Town is a big city, so you need to apply all the precautions you would normally do in a big city.

If you do these (common big city) things, you should be fine:

- Keep your valuables close and where possible out of sight.

- Avoid driving late a night seeing that you are in an unknown environment.

- Do not carry huge amounts of cash.

- Keep copies of travel documents safe and have contact numbers for banking institutions on hand should it be required to cancel cards.

- When driving around, plan your trips so that you don't end up in undesirable areas.

- Lock doors and close windows while travelling in the city or if you temporarily need to stop (traffic light). Rentals have A/C, use that when you are moving slow. When you are travelling at speed (60km/h +), you can safely drive with the window open if you desire.

- Do not wander around in deserted places any time of day or night.

- Keep an eye on people loitering anywhere where you are moving slowly with a car, like stops streets or traffic lights. We do have many beggars and informal sellers at traffic lights, so it's not uncommon to see people there. Criminals may pose as beggars to try and steal from your car. So just be vigilant.

- Do not stop next to the main roads, highways or freeways unless you absolutely have to and even then try to get going as soon as possible. There are an adequate number of service stations next to the roads where you can safely do rest stops, visit the restroom or eat something. Names you can type into your GPS along the way are Engen, Total, Sasol, Caltex or Shell.

- Lock all your valuables in the trunk of your car at all times. Do not drive with handbags, purses, wallets, cellphones or expensive jewelry in plain sight. Opportunistic criminals may smash your car windows when the car is left unattended or while you are still in it (at traffic lights or in city traffic) and will grab your valuables and run away. If they see nothing of value to steal, you won't have this problem.

- A new phenomenon here is when you get out of your car and you "lock" it, you need to physically feel that the door is locked. Criminals have started "Remote Jamming" car remote signals, so you think you lock the car while walking away, but in actual fact it doesn't, they then open the car when you are away and steal your valuables from the car/trunk. If you check that the car is locked, you won't have this problem. If you try and lock your car and it refuses, chances are there is someone trying to block the signal near by, just keep trying, when they see you notice it, they usually up and go and the car will then lock. This is common at shopping centers.

- Do not leave your valuables lying around unattended, even for brief periods. I.e. don't place a cellphone on the counter when paying for a purchase, or your wallet on the table in a restaurant while quickly going to the restroom, etc.

With the exception of one or two more uniquely "South African" problems, it is pretty standard big city stuff. I will be visiting NYC and Las Vegas in two weeks and will apply the same precautions. Just use common sense and please don't let this preoccupy you and ruin your vacation. It is generally safe. As anywhere in the world, there are criminals, but if you're guard is up, you shouldn't have any problems.

Edited: 04 April 2016, 11:45
Cape Town
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18 posts
9 reviews
2. Re: Is it safe in and around Cape Town?

Cape Town is like any other big city. Certain parts are safe and others are not. Walking late at night down dark alleys with cameras, etc is asking for trouble. It is not safe to hike alone, although many popular hiking trails are very busy and, hence, safe.

Driving around Cape Town is most certainly safe, although there were some problems on the N2 at one stage.

Happy travels.

Scotland, United...
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1,419 posts
326 reviews
3. Re: Is it safe in and around Cape Town?

Werfie you make it sound so safe!

London, United...
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1,966 posts
1 review
4. Re: Is it safe in and around Cape Town?

Yes, even I'm scared now after that werfie.

A lot of these stories are blown out of proportion in the British press. Most crime happens deep in the Townships that you will never go to. It's hard to define what you mean by main roads? Mostly it's just lock your car doors and keep valuables out of sight. My car at home auto locks above 10mph so sometimes I forgot to lock the doors, but I never felt unsafe even at traffic lights. On the road down to Cape Point and back (Via Hout Bay) I have got out the car numerous times to take pictures. I have walked along the road by the cable car on table mountain and even been up there and signal hill just after sunset (possibly not the most advisable thing to do though).

I've been visiting South Africa for about 16 years and I have never had any problems regarding safety.

London, United...
Level Contributor
2 posts
6 reviews
5. Re: Is it safe in and around Cape Town?

thanks for this, as you say, Werfie was painting a rather grim picture and was afraid i would be too careful to enjoy myself :)

But i do understand to exercise caution as you would in any large city and will bear all advise in mind.

Really appreciate your feedback on this too. feel much better.

Cape Town Central...
Level Contributor
2,873 posts
7 reviews
6. Re: Is it safe in and around Cape Town?

I am quite happy with Werfie's post. It is meant for those who feel they have to ask, and then this is the reply they have to be given. It just tells them what plain common sense is . . . . . . in lawyer type language. Exactly the same precautions as apply in New York, Bangkok, Paris, Miami, etc.

Level Contributor
21 posts
4 reviews
7. Re: Is it safe in and around Cape Town?

I just returned from my first solo trip abroad to Cape Town from America. I never felt uneasy or unsafe. I took the simplest safety precautions. Basically I only kept what I needed for the day in my front pockets, such as petty rand, a credit card, my phone, keys to accommodation and I kept my GoPro camera in my front pocket when it was not being used. Nothing in my back pockets. I generally made sure that when I was sitting down somewhere that I was in some way touching all of my personal belongings and not just leaving them lying around not being paid attention to. When I walked around the city I made sure I looked confident, walked with purpose, and knew my route and where I was going. Generally people paid no attention to me walking alone around all parts of the city bowl during the day. Also keep in mind there are public safety officials on just about every street corner, not much gets by them and they are swift to act. I had a vagrant approach me and follow me a bit telling me his spill, a public safety official intervened very quickly and sent him on his way. I didn't hike alone, but used guides. I didn't venture out to bars around Long St at night by myself. Actually I didn't walk alone at all at night, but used Uber if I did go out for dinner. I made sure to keep my credit cards and debit card in sight at all times during transactions. Unfortunately though one of my cards was copied, which American Express notified me of a little bit ago. But this has happened to me in the States as well. The poor fellow who copied my card must have been pretty disappointed that he couldn't make his purchase of about R4,000 at the liquor store.

I felt Cape Town was a pretty laid back city compared to the horror stories paraded around by the media.

Edited: 07 April 2016, 18:43
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