Americans have been warned to exercise due care and diligence when visiting South Africa. The US state department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security released a report that includes a travel advisory note to US travelers. According to the report, all the major cities in South Africa must be considered crime hotspots. These are Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria. Cape Town also made it onto the list of high risk areas.
Crime is a grave concern in South Africa and the US report lists popular crimes as “home invasion robberies, burglaries, car-jackings, street muggings, smash-and-grabs, organised attacks on commercial and retail centres, bombings of ATM’s, as well as attacks on cash-in-transit vehicles and personnel.” The report states that criminals don’t specifically target foreigners but it warned that a number of foreigners have been raped in South Africa.
The spokesperson for the US Embassy, Jack Hillmeyer, said that such security reports are standard procedure. These reports are compiled for all the countries that host an American Embassy and where the US has foreign affairs offices to service its citizens living in those countries. Hillmeyer explained that in-depth security reports are not exclusive to South Africa.
Hillmeyer confirmed that despite the warnings that reverberate throughout the report, most US citizens who visit South Africa “generally make it back without incident”. Americans will be relieved to hear that considering that their President Barack Obama will be visiting two of the “critical crime threat spots” mentioned in the report, Pretoria and Cape Town, later this month.
Most South Africans who reacted to the report on social networks felt that the US itself is not the safest place in the world and as such, should not point fingers. Others are of the opinion that one could get killed or raped anywhere in the world, including the countries that are said to be safe. Despite these reactions to the US assessment of the criminal situation in South Africa, the fact remains; South Africa does have an extremely high crime rate.