Is South Africa Safe?

By Lumka Shabalala

Is South Africa Safe?

Is South Africa safe? This is a good question however we as Imbizo Tours being the most knowledgeable tour operator in South Africa and having kept and still striving to give our guests a mind stimulating and most importantly a safe experience for over 25+ years. Are perhaps the best people to answer this question.

Our services are geared towards having safety as a major priority. We do our utmost to ensure that everyone who visits our beautiful country has a wonderful holiday in South Africa and makes memories which are in many ways unforgettable.

The honest truth is that South Africa can be a perfectly safe place to travel to – as long as you’re properly prepared

“…this is nothing to be proud of but it does point to the fact that you are less likely to be killed in South Africa than in some countries and states in the U.S.”

is south africa safe?

travel warnings for south africa

Government Travel Warnings

Government travel warnings.

It is generally best practice to consult your country’s government travel guide when visiting any country. They normally give good advise.

A few statistics from the UNODC website, the homicide rate of some countries per 100,000 inhabitants, sit at high values as compared to ours, these countries include the Honduras (85), Baltimore (54) and New Orleans (41). Of course this is nothing to be proud of but it does point to the fact that you are less likely to be killed in South Africa than in some countries and states in the U.S.

As of October 2018, the U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 2 travel advisory for South Africa, which recommends that visitors exercise increased caution. In particular, the advisory warns about the prevalence of violent crime, especially in the CBDs of major cities after dark.

So what does this mean for tourists, well according to the UK Government’s travel advisory, the risk of violent crime in South Africa is generally low and just as anywhere in the modern world, one really must keep their eyes open for petty crime, credit card fraud, muggings and theft. 

The best way to stay safe in our beautiful country is to exercise the same common sense that you would in any major city. 

Showing off your wealth in a country where the majority of people struggle to put food on the table is never a good idea, however bear in mind that a local musician invited the world famous Rick Ross to see his grandmother and shoot a music video in the dusty streets of his hometown of Katlehong.

If you plan on hiring a car, best practice would be to never leave valuables visible on the seats. Make sure to keep your windows and doors locked. If however you don’t have a car, avoid walking alone, especially at night. Instead, organize a lift with a friend or take us up on our mind stimulating tour groups, or book the services of a licensed taxi.

ATM Scams and carrying Cash.

ATM scams are common place in South these generally involve the stealing of your cash, your card or your personal identification number (PIN) – usually all three. Thieves are often concealed by the fact that they are almost always well-dressed and well-mannered.

It is best practice to:

  • Avoid ATMs at night and in secluded places. Machines in shopping malls and close to banks are usually the safest.
  • Watch your back or get someone else to watch you when you are withdrawing cash.
  • Watch the people around you in particular those using the ATM ahead of you. If they look suspicious, rather use another machine.
  • Do not use an ATM if it appears to have been tampered with.
  • Strictly refuse any offers of help to complete your transaction – or requests of help to complete others transactions.
  • Carry your bank’s emergency phone number, and report card loss immediately.

Is the food and drink safe in South Africa?

South African food in our opinion is the tastiest on the continent do not believe us try the lunch at the Soweto Museum. Another awesome fact is that South Africa is one of the world’s biggest wine-producing countries in the world. So our suggestion is dig in and follow the same health precautions that you would at home and you should be able to avoid any nasty illnesses.

Tap water in major towns and cities is generally safe to drink but it’s a good idea to check with locals before drinking. However if you prefer, bottled water can be found everywhere.

Is transport safe in South Africa?

Uber, Taxify and other driving apps offer a low-cost way of getting around major cities. Bear in mind that not all local cabs use meters, so make sure you negotiate a price before you jump in to avoid paying hefty fees. The Gautrain in Johannesburg is a safe way to travel towards the Capital City in Pretoria and to get back to the Airport it is less than an hour’s trip from the Airport → Johannesburg → Pretoria.

You might spot locals using a minibus taxi in the form of a Toyota minibus. While certainly an option for the intrepid traveller, we recommend you first go on our Taxi Tour to properly learn the ropes because it is not as easy as it sounds. Local public transport can be complicated for first-time visitors.

Other Safety Concerns

It is amusing how often our guests ask about predators like lions and leopards roaming freely in the streets throughout the country, but sadly or lucky for us game is usually confined to protected reserves. Staying safe on a safari is simple – listen carefully to the advice given to you by your tour guide or ranger, don’t venture into the bush at night, and stay in your car on self-drive safaris.

Unlike many African countries, South Africa is largely free from exotic diseases like dengue fever and West Nile virus. Most cities, parks, and reserves are malaria-free, although there is a small risk of infection in the far north of the country. If you do plan on visiting this area, anti-malaria prophylactics are an effective way of avoiding the mosquito-borne disease. Tap water is generally safe to drink and there are no special vaccines required. HIV/ AIDS is prevalent but easily avoided with the correct precautions.

In rural areas however, the roads are unfenced and livestock is known to gather on the roads at night. Thus, it would be a good idea to plan long journeys for daylight hours.


In our experience, and the experiences of so many others we’ve met, South Africa is no more or less dangerous than most popular tourist destinations around the world.

We have been in the tourism business for over 25+ years and in all that time no one who has been our guest has had any problems whilst with us. We believe that this may be attributed to us being upstanding members of our communities we respect our neighbours and in turn they respect us back, we know and live the definition of Ubuntu. Some have even gone as far as describing South Africans as “the friendliest, most helpful people of anywhere we’ve ever visited.”

South Africa is a reasonably wealthy, the tourism infrastructure and industry is highly functional, however poverty and inequality is rife and often these two factors certainly breed desperation. 

Many social issues plague South Africa, and the economic stability of the often time teeter on volatile, this has led to leading to increased unemployment and more inequality. Small time crimes as mentioned above can become a huge issue for travellers and this means that as guests of our country you must be wary of this, and most importantly take the necessary precautions.

If you’re still concerned about travelling through South Africa independently, then please ask us about our tours or better yet tell us what you would like for us to do for you. We will be more than happy to host you.

In conclusion please remember this important fact. Travel insurance is very important wherever in the world where you will choose to travel to.

How do I book a tour?

Well this is the easiest part to book the tour simply click here or you could send us an email on or call the following number  +27612053235

What does each tour cost?
The price for the Johannesburg city tour is an all-time low R690 per person.

But when you combine the Soweto or Alexandra tour.

Another option is to expericnce the best of the best and see both Johannesburg and Soweto with Mandy, the incredible woman who brought tourism to Soweto on a private tour. If Joburg is not your cup of tea then please have a look at our other tour options here