Is Cape Town Safe?

I’ve lived in South Africa all my life, Cape Town is safer than most areas – however, it would be wise to be aware of your surroundings when traveling. Here are the top 15 tips on staying out of trouble and enjoying your holiday:

  1. Don’t be the confused tourist. Know where you want to go and don’t ask strangers for help. Trouble can be avoided if you cut out the opportunities to be a target.
  2. Maintain awareness. There are plenty of areas to relax when out in public, keep a level of situation yellow when traveling to your end destination.
  3. Don’t wear your Rolex. You can reduce your risk dramatically by not wearing valuables or jewelry that make you an obvious target.
  4. Increase your awareness when using ATMs. Never ask for help at the ATM – these scams are quite common. Avoid counting money in public, and shield your PIN when entering it.
  5. Stick to the suburbs. These areas are generally safe: V&A Waterfront, Camps Bay, City Bowl, Sea Point, Mowbray, Clifton, Century City, and many other suburbs near Table Mountain. I wouldn’t advise jogging at night and typically traveling in groups when moving around in the city would be a good idea.
  6. Pack sunblock. You’re more likely to get sunburned than run into trouble in the mother city. Bring water when hiking and stay hydrated.
  7. Avoid cash. Yes, you can but most restaurants, cafes, hotels, or activities will have card facilities.
  8. Don’t leave your belongings unattended. Most likely, it’s going to get ‘lost’ – it’s a surprise for any South African to find their stuff again when left unattended in public. 
  9. Avoid dark corners. There’s more now with the power cuts in South Africa, but this should also go without saying.
  10. Stay away from the higher crime areas. These would be Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain, Philippi, and Gugulethu. Have a glance at Google Maps to double-check your route when driving.
  11. Avoid the street hawkers & beggars. Kindly decline if you’re confronted in the street and when driving leave a sizeable gap when stopping at a traffic light.
  12. You’re not obliged to tip car guards. Many tourists offer large tips for people who watch their car. This is a tourist giveaway – you’re under no obligation to give a tip and if you do, you should already be in a position to drive away.
  13. Have cheap valuables on you. The chances of you needing this one are small, however, in the remote chance that you are the victim of a robbery, comply and part way with your valuables.
  14. Be wary of anything free. Especially if this ‘free’ thing is given to you on the street. This could lead to a scam.
  15. We’re a rowdy bunch. You’ll get the odd troublemaker at the bar now and again. Do not leave your drink unattended.

The verdict – Is Cape Town Safe?

The good news is that the city is investing millions in the latest technology to keep everyone safe – everything from drones and bodycams to CCTV cameras and license plate scanning technology. I wouldn’t be hyper-focused on the negative – petty crime aside, bigger threats such as terrorism are highly unlikely. With these tips, you’ll be able to avoid most of the trouble that could come your way. If all else fails, you’re much better off by complying, however, chances are that you’re more likely to get sunburnt or not hydrate enough during your trip.

About the author
Raymond Smit

Things to do in Cape Town

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