Sunday, August 7, 2022

Stay Safe & Healthy in South Africa

AfricaSouth AfricaStay Safe & Healthy in South Africa

Read next

Stay safe in South Africa

South Africa rarely experiences earthquakes, cyclones, tornadoes, floods, terrorist incidents or infectious diseases (except HIV).

It is however one of the countries with the highest rates of violent crime in the world. However, if you are vigilant and use common sense, you should have a safe and enjoyable trip, just as hundreds of thousands of other people have every year. The key is to know and follow general safety precautions: Never walk around deserted areas at night or advertise the possession of money or expensive accessories.

Do not accept offers from friendly strangers. Don’t carry a fanny pack with all your valuables; instead, consider a concealed money belt that you wear under your shirt. Leave passports and other valuables in a safe or other secure place, although most banks and bureaux de change will require your passport to exchange foreign funds into rands. Do not carry large sums of money. Do not walk in deserted places at night. Conceal the fact that you are a tourist: Hide your camera and binoculars. Do not leave your valuables in plain sight when you are driving, as “smash and grab” robberies sometimes occur at intersections. Know where to go so you don’t get lost or need a map: This will help you avoid signs.

If you carry bags, try to hook them under a table or chair leg when you sit down as this will prevent them from being snatched.

Visiting the townships is possible, but do not do it alone unless you really know where you are going. While some towns are quite safe, there are also some very dangerous places. Go with an experienced guide. Some tour operators offer guided visits to the townships, which are absolutely safe.

Walking in the evening or going to venues after dark can be very risky. It is simply not part of the culture there as it is in Europe, North America or Australia. It is best to take a taxi (a metered taxi, not a minibus taxi) or a private vehicle for an “evening walk”. The same goes for taking hitchhikers or offering help if your car breaks down. If someone looks like they are in trouble on the street, it is best to ignore them as they may be a scam. Keep driving until you see a police station and tell them what you saw.

If you are driving in South Africa and a police officer stops you to check your licence and you show them your foreign licence, they may come out with some rude comments. If your licence is in English, or you have an international driving permit, there is nothing they can do. Stand firm and state this fact – be polite, courteous and do not pay money (bribes).

Be especially careful when driving at night. Unlike in Europe and North America, large parts of South African roads, especially in rural areas, are poorly lit or often not lit at all. This also applies to highways. Be especially careful as wildlife and people often walk in the middle of the road in smaller towns (not in cities like Pretoria, Johannesburg or Cape Town). You also need to be extra careful when driving in South Africa as there is a risk of car theft.

O.R. Tambo International Airport Security Alert

Airport operators occasionally steal valuable items such as iPods, laptops, digital cameras, mobile phones and jewellery when scanning passengers’ checked baggage. They take advantage of the scanning machine to identify and steal valuable items. These incidents occur and the stolen items include everything from electronic devices to designer perfumes.

Place all valuables in your hand luggage and remember that more than 100 ml of lotion and other liquids are not allowed in your hand luggage. When checking in at O.R. Tambo, the check-in attendant will remind you not to put any valuables in your luggage. There is a service at the airport that will wrap your luggage in cling film, while others will wire the zips to prevent easy access to the contents of your luggage.

Important telephone numbers

  • The National Tourism Information – Safety Line, 083 123 2345. Operated by South African Tourism edit.
  • TheNationalInstituteforSea Rescue, +27 21 434-4011, 082 380 3800 (after hours). A voluntary organisation with rescue stations on the coast and larger inland waters

From a fixed line

  • 107 – Emergency call (in Cape Town, from landlines only)
  • 10111 – Police
  • 10177 – Ambulance

From a mobile phone

  • 112-All emergencies

International calls at local rate

  • Step 1: Dial: 087 150 0823 from any mobile or landline phone
  • Step 2: Dial destination number and press #
    • z. B. 00 44 11 123 4567
  • Countries: USA, UK(landline), India, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong and many more.
  • Supported by: Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom and Neotel


One of the main reasons for travellers to visit South Africa is to experience the great outdoors and see the wide variety of wildlife.

When driving in a game reserve, always obey the speed limits and stay in your car at all times. Always follow your guide’s instructions when on game drives or walks.

Make sure you wear socks and boots when out in the bush; do not wear open sandals. A good pair of boots can prevent snake and insect bites and avoid possible cuts that can lead to infections.

In many areas you may encounter wildlife while driving on public roads, monkeys and baboons are particularly common. Do not get out of the vehicle to take photos or otherwise attempt to interact with the animals. As they are wild animals, their behaviour is often unpredictable.

You may even find yourself out in the wild, with wild animals( this often happens with baboons at Cape Point). Keep your distance and always make sure the animals are only on one side of you, do not walk between two groups or individuals. A female baboon can become quite agitated if you separate her from her baby.

Always check with the locals before swimming in a river or lake as there may be crocodiles or hippos. Shark nets have been installed on most major beaches in KwaZulu-Natal. If you intend to swim anywhere other than the main beaches, ask a local first.

Note that shark nets may be removed for a few days during the annual sardine fishery (usually along the KwaZulu-Natal coast between early May and late July). This is done to avoid excessive deaths from sharks and other marine animals. Notices are posted on the beaches during this time.

Stay healthy in South Africa

Emergency and medical assistance

There are a number of independent emergency aid companies in South Africa

  • Netcare 911, 49 New Rd, Midrand, +27 11 254-1927. Some travel agents offer Netcare911 cover as an option, but you can also take them out through Travel Insurance (see below) or find out if your existing cover has a link with them.
  • Travel Insurance, +27 11 780-3300. Is contracted with Netcare and provides comprehensive EMS cover for travellers entering South Africa.
  • ER24, Manor 1, Cambridge Manor Office Park. A large and well represented urgent care company comprising the Medi-Clinic chain of hospitals.


It is best to avoid public hospitals if possible. Private hospitals are of world-class standard.


The main pharmacy chains found in tourist shopping centres (e.g. Sandton City, V&A Waterfront) are Clicks and Dischem. Some supermarket chains such as Checkers have their own pharmacies in the shops.

Pharmacies in South Africa are generally in a similar class to those in Europe and North America. Note, however, that the shelves of South African pharmacies tend to have a smaller selection of medicines than their North American counterparts and a higher quantity of nutritional supplements. South African pharmacies carry many OTC medicines, but if you don’t see them on the shelf, you will have to ask for them at the counter when the pharmacist is there.


Municipal tap water is generally safe to drink throughout the country. In the Western Cape, mountain water is safe, even if it is coloured brown by vegetation. There is a strong risk of schistosomiasis if the water is stagnant.


Many activities in South Africa take place outdoors, see the travel topic Sunburn and Sun Protection for tips on how to protect yourself.


The rate of HIV infection in South Africa is among the highest in the world. Out of a population of 48 million, 5.4 million people are HIV positive.

The HIV infection rate in the total population older than 2 years varies from about 2 % in the Western Cape to over 17 % in KwaZulu-Natal (Avert and overall 18.8 % of South Africans over 15 years are HIV positive. It is estimated that one in four women and one in five men between the ages of 20 and 40 are infected.


The north-eastern areas of the country (including the Kruger National Park and St Lucia and surrounding areas) are seasonal malaria areas, roughly from November to May. The main risk period is just after the rainy season from March to May. Consult a doctor about appropriate precautions depending on the time of year you are travelling. The most important protective measures against malaria are:

  • Use of a DEET-based mosquito repellent
  • Cover your skin with long-sleeved clothing, especially at dusk; and
  • Use of mosquito nets when sleeping.

Tabbard and Peaceful Sleep are commonly used mosquito repellents and can be bought almost everywhere.


Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public spaces, including airports, pubs, shopping centres and theatres. However, this is largely ignored. If people smoke indoors, feel free to join them.

Most restaurants have smoking areas, either ventilated indoor areas or open outdoor areas.

How To Get In South Africa

With plane South Africa is an important hub for air travel in the Southern African region. The country's flag carrier, South Africa Airways (SAA), has an extensive global and pan-African network of connections, some of which are operated by its short-haul subsidiaries SA Airlink and SA Express. South Africa has 10...

How To Travel Around South Africa

By plane South Africa has a well-developed domestic air transport infrastructure with connections between all major centres. There are several daily flights to all major airports in the country. Contact one of the airlines for details. The budget airlines (Kulula, Mango) are usually the cheapest and prices can be compared...

Visa & Passport Requirements for South Africa

People of the following nationality will not need a visa for a period of stay of 90 days or less: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand,...

Weather & Climate in South Africa

South Africa generally has a temperate climate, partly due to the fact that it is surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, that it is in the southern hemisphere, which has a milder climate, and that the average altitude increases steadily northwards (towards the equator) and...

Accommodation & Hotels in South Africa

Businesses in South Africa can be graded on a 5-star basis by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. Many establishments make use of this service and you will see the star rating on most promotional material. 1 star - Clean, comfortable and functional.2 stars - Good: High quality facilities,...

Destinations in South Africa

Regions GautengPretoria - The administrative capital of the country. Johannesburg is the seat of the provincial government, as well as the economic heart of Africa and the most frequent point of entry into southern Africa. Western Cape - Cape Town, the Mother City, the legislative capital and seat of Parliament, with...

Things To See in South Africa

Every year hundreds of thousands of tourists visit South Africa to discover its numerous natural and cultural attractions. South Africa is a fascinating country full of contrasts and beauty - everything from wild elephants to breathtaking landscapes, cave paintings, colonial heritage and vibrant towns. Wild animals in their natural habitat South...

Things To Do in South Africa

Diving,River rafting: The Orange River on the border with Namibia is a popular destination for rafting tours. Several tour operators start 4-6 day trips from Vioolsdrif in inflatable boats with camping under the stars.Rugby union, cricket and football are all popular spectator sports traditionally associated with African, Anglo-South African...

Food & Drinks in South Africa

Food in South Africa Cuisine South African cuisine is multicultural, influenced by native British, German, Indian, Malayan, Portuguese and, of course, African influences. Braaivleis, meat roasted over an open wood or charcoal fire, is very popular and is usually done at weekend social events. The act of roasting the meat as well...

Money & Shopping in South Africa

Money in South Africa A currency is the ZAR (rand), divided into 100 cents (c). The banknotes are available in denominations ranging from R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10.The higher denomination notes are slightly larger than the lower denomination notes. All notes have a metallic security strip and watermark. Note...

Festivals & Events in South Africa

Public holidays in South Africa DateName1 JanuaryNew Year's Day21 MarchHuman Rights DayThe Friday before Easter SundayGood FridayThe Monday after Easter SundayFamily Day27 aprilFreedom Day1 MayLabour Day16 JuneYouth Day9 AugustNational Women's Day24 SeptemberHeritage Day16 DecemberDay of reconciliation25 DecemberChristmas Day26 DecemberGoodwill Day

Internet & Communications in South Africa

Phone in South Africa The country code of South Africa is 27. Telephone numbers within South Africa have the format 0XX YYY ZZZZ. Large cities have area codes of 0XX (Johannesburg is 011, Pretoria 012, Cape Town 021, Durban 031, Port Elizabeth 041, East London 043, Kimberley 053, Bloemfontein 051), while smaller...

Language & Phrasebook in South Africa

There are 11 official languages in South Africa, namely Afrikaans, Southern Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Swazi, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda and English. The majority of people who are not rural black South Africans speak English as a second language. Only about 8% of the population speaks English...

Traditions & Customs in South Africa

South Africans are generally polite, friendly and courteous towards tourists. Behaviour in public is very similar to what you might find in Europe. Heterosexual expressions of affection in public are not frowned upon unless you overdo it. Homosexual displays of affection can attract unwanted attention, although they are tolerated and...

Culture Of South Africa

South Africa's black majority still has a significant number of rural dwellers who live largely impoverished lives. Among these people, cultural traditions survive most strongly; with the increasing urbanisation and westernisation of black people, aspects of traditional culture have declined. Members of the middle class, who are predominantly white...

History Of South Africa

The tip of Africa has been home to the Khoisan (collective name for Hottentots (Koi) and Bushmen (San)) for thousands of years. Their rock art can still be found in many places in South AfricaAccording to some estimates, the Bantu tribes gradually began to spread into what is now...



South America


North America

Most Popular