The US Department of State on Wednesday issued a travel advisory to its citizens travelling to South Africa, following the release of the annual crime statistics by the SA Police Service.
Major General Norman Sekhukhune, head of police crime research and statistics, on Tuesday released the 2017/18 crime statistics to the Portfolio Committee on Police in Parliament.
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It revealed an increase of 6.9% in South Africa’s murder rate. This means 1 320 more people were murdered than in the previous year.
The US travel advisory states that “increased caution” should be exercised by travellers to South Africa, “due to crime, civil unrest, and drought”.
“Violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and ‘smash-and-grab’ attacks on vehicles, is common. There is a higher risk of violent crime in the central business districts of major cities after dark,” the advisory states.
“Demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently. These can develop quickly without prior notification, often interrupting traffic, transportation, and other services; such events have the potential to turn violent.”
The advisory also alerts travellers to the drought in the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape and provides information on the water restrictions in Cape Town.
The US advises its citizens to avoid walking alone, especially after dark; avoid visiting informal settlement areas unless they are accompanied by someone familiar with the area; not display cash or valuables; drive with doors locked and windows closed; always carry a copy of their US passport and visa and to keep original documents in a secure location.
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The US is not the only country that warns its citizens against risks when travelling to South Africa.
Canada’s travel advisory, which was updated on August 30, states: “South Africa has a very high level of crime. Crime is the primary security threat to travellers.”
“Violent crimes, including rape and murder, occur frequently and have involved foreigners. Muggings, armed assaults and theft are also frequent, often occurring in areas that are popular among tourists. Carjackings, robbery and assault also occur,” it states.
The UK warns that “there is a very high level of crime, including rape and murder in South Africa”, and that citizens “should take sensible precautions to protect your safety”.
The crime statistics also indicate an increase in robberies, sexual assault, bank robberies and burglaries.
Despite several calls and a text message, comment from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) could not be obtained.
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