The Australian Government Travel Advisory says visitors to South Africa (SA) should exercise a “high degree of caution”, citing a long list of crimes including rape, murder, and spiked drinks.
The Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reportedly said on its website, “Crime‚ including violent crime‚ is a serious issue in South Africa. Most types of crime are increasing. Be alert. Don’t expect the same level of service from South African police as you would in Australia.”
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is planning to raise government concerns about the advisory with her Australian counterpart‚ Minister Julie Bishop.
This comes fast on the back of thorny comments from Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton‚ who stirred up a hornet’s nest by offering to fast track visa applications for “persecuted” white farmers‚ which his own government then rejected. Protestors took to the streets in Australia to draw attention to “farm murders” in South Africa.
While the US and UK warn travellers about violent crime in South Africa‚ the advisory to Australians is extensive. It includes warning about criminals operating out of the country’s airports‚ robberies and shopping centres and aboard trains running near Johannesburg‚ Pretoria and Cape Town – and of thefts at hotel guest rooms. The website reportedly lists the dangers to travellers as: “Murder‚ rape‚ car hijackings‚ civil unrest‚ water shortages‚ spiked drinks‚ drunk drivers and terrorism.”
In February, the United Kingdom issued a travel warning against South Africa, citing the possibility of terrorist attacks. According to eNCA, the government said the main threat in South Africa came from Isis, and that terrorists were likely to commit attacks in shopping malls.
SA Tourism Chief Executive Officer Sisa Ntshona said the organisation was concerned about the advisory‚ saying it had the potential to harm tourism to the country.
“Across the world‚ destination marketing organisations like South African Tourism rely on the travel trade to package and sell South Africa as the ideal leisure and business events destination. It’s not ideal for us when travel advisories are issued which create the perception that the country is an unsafe travel destination‚” he said.
Ntshona added the organisation worked closely with all our stakeholders “to ensure that we create a safe environment for our tourists and visitors to enjoy our beautiful country”.
BusinessTech reported in April that “several” applications by farmers wanting refugee or humanitarian status in Australia were now being considered. The South African government took offense at Dutton’s comments and issued a diplomatic demarche to the Australian High Commissioner to South Africa.