In light of South Africa's high crime rate, Donna Bryson investigates what World Cup fans can do to reduce risk. Police spokesman Vish Naidoo offered tips that would be familiar to those visiting urban areas around the world: Don’t flaunt your valuables. Don’t walk alone in isolated places. Tap local knowledge, such as hotel staff, for guidance on safe neighborhoods in which to walk or jog.
Naidoo also notes that South African police will be on the streets in large numbers during the World Cup to offer assistance. A recruiting drive that began in 2004 was aimed at increasing police numbers by 55,000 to 200,000 nationwide by tournament time. The majority of muggings, murders and other crimes are concentrated in a few areas plagued by drug use or destabilizing factors. In most cases, victims are South African and know the criminals.
Naidoo said international visitors are less likely victims: “People can draw confidence from that. There’s no need to be paranoid.” Gary Ronald of the Automobile Association of South Africa advises visitors ask for a GPS when they rent cars. “We certainly wouldn’t advocate just stopping and asking a stranger [for directions] in the street,” he said.
Cameras and purses should be kept in the trunk, and windows rolled up while driving through crowded downtowns. When using an ATM, don’t take advice on using the machine from anyone hanging around the area, not even someone who looks like a guard.