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Tourists to South Africa warned about ‘smash and grab’ attacks

British nationals visiting South Africa have been warned to be aware of ‘smash and grab’ attacks taking place on vehicles.

Updated travel advice, uploaded by the Foreign Office on Friday 10 November, highlighted the “high crime rate, including carjacking, ‘smash and grab’ attacks on vehicles, house robbery, rape, sexual assault and murder.”

In recent data posted by Statistics South Africa, there was a visible rise in household crimes in the 2022/23 period.

The FCDO adds that “violent crime can take place anywhere, including in tourist destinations and transport hubs.  

“Most violent crimes occur in townships on the outskirts of major cities or in isolated areas. The threat is higher in central business districts of major cities than in suburban areas, and increases after dark.”

However, it does add that “the risk of violent crime to visitors in the main tourist cities is generally low. There is usually additional security personnel in the main tourist areas who can assist tourists”.

The updated advice also includes additional “information on the less secure areas around international airports in Johannesburg and Cape Town”.

The advice adds: “Crime can happen in and around the airport, including robbery and theft of baggage and valuables.

“People have been followed from OR Tambo International airport in Johannesburg to their destinations and then robbed, often at gunpoint.”

Advice states that visitors should always be careful when following GPS navigation, and that they should avoid taking alternative routes away from main roads “as this can often take you into less secure areas”.

Additionally, it says that “for travel to and from Cape Town International airport, you should stick to the M3 and N2 where possible, and avoid the R300 and the R310 (Baden Powell) between Muizenberg and the N2 intersection.”

On how best to protect your personal safety, the FCDO advises tourists to conceal valuables, take reliable public transport, stay alert if people approach you, avoid walking around after dark and travel with friends where possible.

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