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05-11-2015, 11:45 AM
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South Africa 2015 Crime and Safety Report
Travel Health and Safety; Transportation Security; Stolen items; Theft; Financial Security; Burglary; Murder; Carjacking; Rape/Sexual Violence; Aviation; Fraud; Bribery; Religious Violence; Riots/Civil Unrest; Racial Violence/Xenophobia; Maritime; Employee Health Safety; Intellectual Property Rights Infringement; Drug Trafficking; Disease Outbreak
Africa > South Africa; Africa > South Africa > Bloemfontein; Africa > South Africa > Cape Town; Africa > South Africa > Durban; Africa > South Africa > Johannesburg; Africa > South Africa > Pretoria
Overall Crime and Safety Situation

The official unemployment rate is 24 percent, but experts believe it is closer to 40 percent.

Crime Rating: Critical

Crime Threats

Crime is a key strategic concern for the government, as well as for U.S. government employees and visitors. Regardless of the type of crime being committed, crime is distinguished by: 1) the level of violence associated with personal and property crimes, as criminals do not hesitate to use lethal weapons; and 2) the occurrence of crimes across all metropolitan areas regardless of the socio-economic status of a particular neighborhood.

Crimes range from petty muggings to ATM scams to armed residential home invasions and murder. These crimes occur with frequency and in all neighborhoods. U.S. citizens are not specifically targeted, but are frequently victims of a wide range of crimes.

Violent, confrontational crime is a major concern. Such crimes include: home invasion robberies, rape, burglaries, carjackings, street muggings, smash-and-grabs, organized attacks on commercial/retail centers (shopping malls and outlets), ATM bombings, and attacks on cash-in-transit vehicles/personnel (i.e., armored car/personnel). Recently released South African Police Service (SAPS) 2013-14 crime statistics for all major crimes can be found at: http://www.saps.gov.za/resource_centre/publications/statistics/crimestats/2014/crime_stats.php.

Of particular concern are home invasion robberies. These crimes are often violent and can occur at any time of day. In many cases, criminals prefer to attack when the occupant is home or arriving/leaving the premises because the residential alarm is off and the occupant can identify where valuables are kept.

Perhaps the most vulnerable chokepoint at any residence is the driveway entrance gate. Criminals attack when victims are waiting for the vehicle gate to open/close. According to SAPS, the majority of carjackings occur when the victim arrives at home and pulls into the driveway; the carjackers pull up behind the victim to block an escape path. Victims who resist or fail to comply with demands may be killed or seriously injured. In many scenarios, robbers force the victim into the house; rob the house of its valuables, and carjack the vehicle.

South Africa has one of the highest rape rates in the world. While not specifically targeted, foreigners can easily become victims. This crime occurs everywhere and against all age groups, including infants and the elderly. The use of Gamma Hydroxybutyric (GHB), the “date rape drug,” is common by criminals to facilitate overpowering their victims. Many rape victims are killed or severely wounded either in the initial attack or after being raped. Brutal mutilations and immolation of some live victims are disturbing trends. Due to the extremely high rate of HIV/AIDS, anyone who is the victim of rape or sexual assault should seek medical attention immediately to include prophylaxis against HIV and other STDs, and report the crime to the police.

Financial and identity theft crimes are common, including ATM, credit card, and Internet “lonely hearts” and the “419” scams. Most businesses, including gas stations and restaurants, have portable credit card machines, which are brought to the customer to allow them to swipe their debit/credit card. Despite these safeguards, cards are frequently cloned, resulting in exorbitant fraudulent charges.

Large, well-organized criminal syndicates operate freely. These gangs are known to target businesses and retail stores in coordinated, armed attacks.

Areas of Concern

There are no designated “off-limit” areas, but it is recommended that “township” neighborhoods and Central Business Districts (CBDs) be avoided, particularly after dark, unless traveling with an organized tour group or someone who knows the area. Visitors should increase their level of awareness in these areas during daylight, due to high crime rates and spontaneous protests often involving road blocks and demonstrators burning tires or throwing rocks/projectiles. Questions or concerns regarding a specific area can be directed to the U.S. Mission Regional Security Offices in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, or Durban.