US travel warning for SA slammed

2013-06-19 11:49
Cape Town - The United States has issued a travel advisory warning visitors to South Africa about a "critical crime threat". 

The warning, released in a document by the US state department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, labelled Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town as "critical crime threat spots".

The document also stated, "violent and confrontational crime is a major concern [in South Africa]. Such crimes include 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."

But "crime knows no nationalities", according to comments made by News24 Travel readers on Facebook.

We asked our international readers if a warning of this nature would put them off visiting South Africa, with many responding about their own personal experience while her. Read what they had to say.

Barbara Watson: Not at all been 3 times and intend to come back next year doesn't matter where you go in the world nowadays.

Scelo Livewire Lethela: US is No.1 when it comes to crime, SA is a beautiful country with high crime like most other countries, tourists you welcome *warm heart n smile*.

Leegrah Signage: I have lived in jhb my whole life and personally only had a car stolen, i have never left SA and wouldnt dream of living anywhere else, i love my people and my country.

Ayesha Jakoet: Oh please, pot calling the kettle black? SA is awesome!

Paul Chambers: Spent nearly a month in SA in March, no problem.

Andrew Wallace: Yes, there is crime in all major cities around the world but it is the brutality of the crimes in SA which never cease to shock me, turn my stomach and scare me back indoors.

LX Viljoen: As long as you have some street sense, you are fine, SA is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, this report not only covers SA, it covers every country in the world today.

Hendrik van Rooyen: A government obsessed with its own myth is failing its citizens. I have chosen to raise my children elsewhere and objectively notice the deterioration of ethical governance from the outside. It's up to South Africans to choose the leaders with political will and vision to change this trend. I'm not holding my breath though.

Buti Makhosonke Mpinga: openness shows how much we care for human kind, crime knows no nationality, bigup to crime awareness drives. sa aint immune.

Foster Mathebula: I am live in ukraine been to SA nearly 6monthz itz a great plc planning to cum back next month itz a gud plc.

Michael Bruin: I think the minotrity of travellers who bother to read their government warnings will be put off yes. I don't think the majority will be.

Janet Hartslief: I live in dubai for the past 3 years and we now see how SA's crime is blown way out of proportion - yes there is crime just like any other country - but other countries just dont get the full blown negative publicity as SA does !! - i have experienced crime in dubai first hand in the beginning of the year..... no country is save anymore !!

Nicole Lovelock Kolver: oh please do your selves a favour and google travel advices for South Africa. The US, Cananda and UK have them as well as other first world countries, but not only for South Africa every country in the world. It is nothing special and freely available for anyone to view.

Avuyile Elam Mahlahla: It's not a heaven or some kind of a holy place:..It's a country just like any other countries where crime exists...tourists you all welcomed to witness this beautiful country and friendly people living in it#proudlySouthAfrican.

Kamohelo Technokamza Olifant: Come visit our country although we have two double head president with a head looking like an Alien,with no formal education,we are a great country.

Linda Langeveldt: Well definitely not but it all depends if you are in a group or alone! Alone - never!!! If you are 4 or 6 yes! SA is the most beautiful country in the world but as we are also the country in the world with highest crime, highest rape and murder, precaution should be taken where you go. Be streetwise and you will love a holiday in our beloved country for sure.

Nokuthula Majenge Tshabalala: crime is everywhere.

DorothyAnne Sutton: They have crime too, so what are they talking about?

Constantine Dino Vassiliou:
Yes there is risk of crime, I have seldom been a victim and only of petty theft. More chance of being hit by a tornado or earthquake in USA. Warning to tourists travelling to US beware of severe tornados and earthquakes on west coast.

Zodwa Zoe Shlo: which country has .nt had a crime? US is even the worst,so shut up!!!! I 've heard of worst crimes outside SA, where there s people there's always crimes, .SA is beautiful *

Emily Merlé Van Wyk: aww plse US...every other day a child or otha wacko goes on a shooting spree that foeitog go check your own backyard

Deborah Anne Hall Jutzeler: 2007 whilst in Switzerland had all my jewelry stolen from the apartment where I was staying.

Julia Brownlee: Crime is everywhere. In SA our justice system is what fails us. Ive lived in SA all my life and witnessed a stabbing in Italy, first violent thing i ever saw. Crime is everywhere, be vigilant and dont be silly

Jenni Gardiner: We have been burgled a couple of times in cape town but was petty stuf and guy was caught and thrown in jail but have never been attacked here. When I moved to the UK, I was attacked by 3 people about 1.5 times the size of me. So please, you can get attacked anywhere in the wrld and by any nationality.....I feel safer here than I did in UK. What does that tell you?

Here's what other readers who are not as optimistic had to say:

Benjamin Oosthuizen:
Well, nothing in the statement is false! The reason that they make it back without incident is because of statements like these giving them a heads-up.

Julian Kruger: It's about time. Maybe South Africa will now wake up and finally do something.

Michelle Behringer: It is high time someone steps in and takes control.... our president does not care

Tommo Too: 
So nice to be famous for our crime and violence. Mr Zuma what is your solution?

Timmy Thomas: It is high time that, WE, South Africans, warn the outside world of the rampant crime in SA and discourage tourists from visiting our country. This will, hopefully, open the eyes of the government and perhaps they´ll do something about this unsafe country. I´m starting today to tell all my overseas friend NOT to visit this crime-ridden, corrupt little country, with absolutely nothing to offer to the world. And, by the way: I´m black. I know you´ll all imagine I´m some racist sitting in Orania.

Karl Kat: This is good. It is about time that the rest of the world takes notice what is happening in our country. We are a hell hole of violent crime, murder, rape, theft and corruption but Zuma says we are safe

Char Ou: We complain a lot and blame government for everything. We should know by now that they are failing in every social sphere and should not expect things to improve until a change of administration. Its up to the citizens to safe guard ourselves. Subscribe to armed response, have a house sitter when you on vacation, speak to your neighbors and be visible outside our homes. Join the local CPS or form a street watch team. Arrange for CCTV monitoring/ security huts on your street with your community. If your neighbors alarm goes off give them a call and find out what's happening. Screen your domestic help before employment. Train your pets not to accept food from strangers. Use technology such as tracking devices and panic buttons on cell phones in case of theft or emergency. Keep handbags and other valuables off the seat when driving. Avoid less familiar areas at night. When jogging/cycling do so in a group. Vary your routes back home after campus or work. Keep emergency numbers and vehicle tracking details on a fridge or near a phone. In case of a hi jacking or robbery do not look the perp in the eye or make any sudden movements like reaching for the seat belt. Rather tell them 'I'm reaching for the seat belt'. Stay calm, let them take what they want cause your life is much more valuable than being a hero. If you go home and find that your driveway gate is not opening DO NOT GET OFF the vehicle!!! There's a new hijacking trend where criminals use cable ties preventing gates from opening. They wait for a driver to jump off then take the car. You rather drive to the police station.

Wherever you travel, do following these basic rules of safety:

- Do not attract unwanted attention by openly displaying cash, cameras or other valuables.
- Don't venture into unknown areas on your own.
- Always inform somebody about your planned itinerary and your whereabouts.
- If you are confronted by a criminal, don't resist. Handover your goods as resistance might incite a mugger to violence.
- Program emergency numbers in your cellphone beforehand.

Come join our travel community on Facebook and Twitter or email us about your travels at
Read more on:    travel south africa  |  travel international

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