While we are all aware of the middle east crisis, the bombings in Mumbai and tsunamis in Asia - the startlingly reality of high levels of crime here in South Africa was something I had heard about but not paid much attention.
On watching the early morning news today the lead story of a gang-related massacre and the gunning down of foreign nationals at motorway off ramps (which I have to drive past on my way to the office) caused me some concern. Having lived in the UK and now the UAE this type of crime is particularly rare.
In fact my friend who picked me up from the airport had just been subjected to a robbery and had had her handbag, car keys and subsequently car stolen from her secured locker in the local gym.
Sadly I have little comfort in the fact that crime rates are dropping in Jo'burg. In the meantime there are a number of guidelines I will be following. Most are common sense but the one time you forget will be time you are vulnerable (there is a very similar list printed in the hotel guide)
- Do not walk alone in deserted areas and around the streets after dark
- Avoid inner city and rural areas as well as townships, unless part of a tour group.
- Always keep valuables such as jewelery out of sight
- Do not display your camera around your neck
- Do not carry large sums of money
- Do not leave your luggage unattended
- Avoid suburban trains during off-peak unless part of a large group
- Do not accept lifts from strangers and never 'hitchhike'.
- When in a car, keep doors locked and windows only partially open.
- Do not offer lifts to strangers.
- Where possible, park in supervised parking areas.