The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant In The Room

Yes, this is Africa.  But no, there is NOT an elephant in ANY room.

The real elephant in the room is the crime in South Africa.  This is not a pleasant blog to write, but it needs to be done.  Often my international guests cautiously ask me about the crime in South Africa.  It is somehow a bit of a taboo subject so we speak in hushed tones.  Why? Let's rather have a frank discussion.

Personal Observations by a Local

This article is based on my personal observations. Unfortunately, crime in South Africa is a reality.  All countries have their problems, and crime is ours.  BUT it is not unique to South Africa. One of my guests, Henrik from Sweden said, "I do not feel less safe in Cape Town, than for instance in Paris."  Crime is a problem in most of the larger cities in the world!

By reading this, you are already part of the solution.  Tourism plays a profound role in the answer to the problems in South Africa.  In a country where the unemployment rate is almost 30%, there is bound to be crime.  In my personal opinion (and of course, I am not an expert), there are amongst others, a few contributing factors to the crime in South Africa

1. Unemployment

This is where you are part of the solution.  Support small businesses.  Stay at that small B&B, support a local street vendor, support the local restaurants.  The more small businesses you support, the bigger those businesses can grow.  Your support creates opportunities and jobs!

2.  Apartheid

Apartheid is not something that we like to talk about.  Although it has almost been 25 years since the end of Apartheid wounds have not healed.  All of us expected the balance to have been restored.  We should have equal opportunities by now, right?  No, we don't.  This causes racial tension. But what the media does not show is that the everyday South Africans love each other.  We work together, we play together, we cry together and we laugh together. And when necessary, we stand together.

3.  Corruption

Often money and resources are pocketed and not distributed to the impoverished.  Something to ponder is that it is not only politicians that are corrupt.  It is the everyday person who pays that R100 bribe or keeps quiet when they see a crime being committed. It is this mindset that enables corruption. We have a new president now, and he is outspoken about stopping corruption.  Let's have faith and see what happens...

Tips for being safe in South Africa:

  • Be vigilant.
  • Do not wear extravagant jewellery and carry large sums of cash.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not leave valuable items in your car where it is visible.
  • Especially in the larger cities: do not drive with handbags, wallets, cell phones or any valuables visible in your car.

It is out in die open, yes there is crime in South Africa, but don't always believe everything you see in the media.  South Africa is the most beautiful country in the world and still one of the best family destinations.  Be part of the solution by telling your friends and family of your experiences in South Africa.

Please tell me about your experience in South Africa in the comments.  Which was your favourite destination in South Africa as a solo-traveller or as a family?


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