Security in South Africa: the real deal

Heyyy all so the first semester at UCT has now finished and exams are looming, however the last few weeks have been really interesting as students and staff unite against rising fees and outsourcing. It has been a fascinating time to be in Cape Town and a privilege to see these protests in action. Everyone should check out #feesmustfall to see just what’s going on and show your support for students in South Africa! I will definitely post more on this at a later date but first of all lets talk crime and all things dangerous!

It’s unfortunately the case when people think of South Africa crime & security concerns are the first things that pop into mind.I saw this reaction first hand when I told my family/friends that I would be going on exchange to Cape town. In fact the expression on my mums face when I told her the news perfectly summed up the reactions of many. While this was caught on camera if I showed it to the world my well-being would definitely be in danger!

While granted there are some aspects of security that one must be aware of while living in South Africa, there are also several misconceptions about security and the country in general. I’ve been living in Cape Town for over three months now and it truly is a wonderful place, so through these blogs I will try and give SA the credit it deserves!

Misconception 1

  • The first thing I need to point out is Africa is huge, it contains the entirety of USA, China, India and the majority of Europe combined. Life in North Africa is completely different to the South. Even within South Africa the differences between provinces are pretty pronounced. Cape Town is located in the Western Cape and is a first world city in a 3rd world country. It is built up and generally considered the most westernised area in true size of africaSouth Africa (it’s not as if you are living in a desert surrounded by lions). Although one of the benefits of South Africa is you can go from the busy city life to being surrounded by countryside and wildlife in only a few hours.

Misconception 2

  • The second misconception is that you are in danger of being brutally attacked every time you step outside. Granted, South Africa as a country has pretty high crime rates but as I said it’s a big, and diverse place so generalities aren’t useful indicators. Cape Town is one of the safest places in South Africa, but just like it isn’t advisable to walk through Paisley in the middle of the night you shouldn’t walk down any sketchy streets in Cape Town. There are some places where you just wouldn’t go and these are pretty obvious. In the areas where you would find yourself in Cape Town you can easily walk about during the day on your own. As it becomes darker it’s better to walk in group and as night falls you should take a taxi. Taxi fares here are very cheap and won’t put you back more than a few pounds especially since they will generally be shared with others.

How to master Cape Town’s Night life

Don’t flash your phone for everyone to see

  • While your snapchat game may suffer the more you bring your phone out the more likely it is to be taken. I usually take my phone with me but keep it in my bag (not your pocket) and so far it’s still going strong

Don’t go in an unmarked taxi

  • There are loads of legitimate taxi services in Cape Town and just like in Glasgow at the end of the night there will be hundreds of them lining the streets and you can just jump in one. The trick is to look for taxis with advertisements on them and go for those ones!
  • During the day, you can also take a minicab without any problem at all. These are distinct vehicles which hold around ten people and drive up and down the main routes, where you can jump on and off for R5-R10.

Don’t be a mwi scene

  • Since being in Cape Town I have certainly been making the most of the great night life and I haven’t felt unsafe on a night out yet. Although, Cape Town isn’t Glasgow and I wouldn’t advise strolling up and down Long Street singing dancing and generally being a mwi scene (like we all do on Sauchiehall Street coming out of ABC/garage). If you do this you will attract the attention either of the wrong kind of people or the police who, to put it politely, have a bit more of an edge than the ones in Glasgow.

Don’t be that girl!

  • One thing I would just urge girls to be aware of is the image they portray. It’s pretty warm here even at night now, so it’s perfectly normally for girls to wear shorts/dresses etc. However, if you dress extremely provocatively then you will stand out and while you will be fine in the clubs surrounded by mainly students, you don’t want to attract any unwanted attention once you leave.

Best nights of your life!

  • Generally though Cape Town is a fab place to go out, you can hit Long Street in town which
    long street

    Long street

    has several pubs/bars/clubs. Beerhouse is a great shout on a Friday. You could also hit up Claremont which is always a crazy night. Then you also have Obvs which slightly more chilled and has a different vibe, but home to Stones which certainly has made a name for itself in more ways than one.Overall the drinks are so cheap, the music is banging, people are really nice and the vibe is great! My best advice is don’t give people the opportunity and you wont be their target. So as long as you keep these few points in mind then Cape Town really is the place you want to be!

Classy nights in Cape Town

But most of the time nights are much more chilled and crazy!


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