British soccer fans get warning about pitfalls of visiting SA for 2010
WATCH out for ATM fraud and “prudently drive around stones in the middle of the road” put there by gun-toting hijackers.
These travel tips are part of the comprehensive guide from the British Foreign Office made available for UK soccer fans visiting South Africa for the World Cup.
Official advice from the Foreign Office warns of a variety of dangers, from armed robbers, card cloning and fake soccer tickets to a prevalent HIV/Aids pandemic, cholera flare-ups and inflated accommodation prices.
And the alert button should be on from the moment fans land at OR Tambo Inter national Airport, the guide tells UK fans. “During 2007 and 2008 there were a number of incidents involving foreigners being followed from OR Tambo International Airport in Joburg to their destinations by car and then robbed, often at gunpoint.”
“We recommend you exercise particular caution in and around the airport and extra vigilance when driving away.
“As elsewhere, thieves like to operate at inter national airports and bus and railway stations. Keep your baggage with you at all times.”
Travel tips describe passport theft as “common”, with 871 passports reported stolen between April 2008 and March 2009. “It is usually opportunist and non-violent, although some are taken during muggings.”
Other advice includes staying completely clear of areas such as Berea and Hillbrow in Joburg, hijacking hazards on the roads to Kruger National Park, and possible attacks on hikers around Table Mountain.
The Foreign Office advice also states, “Be vigilant at all times in Durban’s city centre and beachfront area.
“In all areas of South Africa, you should be cautious when out after dark. Streets, even in urban areas, are not brightly lit at night.”
And some of the travel tips – in understated British style – comment on the hazards of driving on South African roads, where “the standard of driving in South Africa can vary greatly and there are many fatal accidents every year.”
Travel insurance is highly encouraged, as “not having insurance could cost over £25 000 (R294 000) in medical bills and air evacuation.”
Yet amid this long list of potential threats to life and limb in South Africa, the Foreign Office does include a few lines of comfort to England’s soccer-loving supporters.
“However, most cases of crime occur in the townships and in areas away from the main tourist destinations.
“The South African authorities give high priority to protecting tourists, and the risk to visitors travelling to the main tourist destinations is low.”