Wednesday, June 9, 2010

2 Days To Go: How to Stay Safe in South Africa


2 days to go! Can we just fast forward to Friday?

Today, some scary news out of the host country South Africa as three foreign World Cup journalists were robbed at gunpoint early on Wednesday morning.

According to ESPN Soccernet, the three journalists escaped the ordeal unhurt, although they were a bit shaken.

Portuguese photographer Antonio Simoes was woken early in the morning by two men entering his room at the Nutbush Boma Lodge outside of Magaliesburg and two other reporters were also robbed at the same hotel.

"One of the guys pointed a hand gun at my head, and then they took all my gear - cameras, lenses, laptop," Simoes said. "Then they told me to lie on the bed and they covered me with a blanket, pressed the gun against my head and told me to sleep.

"The whole thing took one or two minutes, but it felt like hours."

There's fear that crime will run rampant in South Africa while the World Cup ensues.

So how does one stay safe should they be traveling there to watch the world's greatest sporting event?

Here, some tips from the Christian Science Monitor, provided by Johan Burger of the Institute for Security Studies and from the South African Police Service.

1. Don’t advertise that you are a stranger in town. Criminals look for those who may seem fearful or unfamiliar with an area, or who may not know to take certain precautions, such as putting your wallet in your front pocket, rather than in the back pocket. Try to get directions from people you can trust, such as hotel staff, police officers, or store personnel. If someone is pestering you, politely refuse to take their help, and keep moving toward your destination or to a place of safety.

2. Hide the bling. You may have beautiful taste in watches or jewelry, but South Africans know to wear costume jewelry, if they wear any at all. Keep most of your valuables (including passport, cameras, etc.), locked away either in a hotel safe or locked in your bags at the hotel room. If you are withdrawing money from a bank, stand close to the automatic teller machine to obscure the view of others on how much you are taking out.

3. Travel in groups. There are areas that are safer than others in South Africa, as in any major city of the world. But you can still pay visits to historic monuments in South Africa – many of which are in older, urban areas – or to poorer townships such as Soweto and Alexandra, if you travel in a group organized by a tour operator recommended by your hotel.

4. Listen to locals. Ask the concierge or manager of your hotel or guesthouse for recommendations of what to see and when it is safe to travel. Many restaurants and nightclubs are clustered in areas that are generally safe, but it is always good to take the advice of local people on where to visit and when it is safest to return home.

5. Stay alert for carjackers. In most cases, it is the car that is the target and not the drivers or passengers. If you find yourself facing a gunman, simply get out of your car and hand over the keys without argument or delay. If you are being followed by someone who appears to be acting suspiciously, try to drive to the nearest police station, or to a public place like a shopping mall where there may be more protection and visibility.

6. Watch for “smash and grab” robberies. Try to keep valuables such as cellphones, purses, computer laptops, or other valuables out of sight, or better yet, locked away in the trunk of the car. Again, if you are the victim of a smash and grab, do not add to your risk by resisting the robber.

For more tips, check out the South African Police Service’s website.

1 comment:

Amy Hickey said...

that's a really good advice! thanks!

- from : Amy Hickey – Expert SEO Software Consultant.