Last updated on November 30th, 2019 at 02:55 am
Honestly… Is Cape Town safe to visit?
Year after year, Cape Town is included on lists of the best cities to visit around the world and as a South African, I can’t help but wonder why?
Yes, the city is beautiful and there are many fun things to do in Cape Town but why is Cape Town continuously voted as the best city in South Africa? which factors are taken into consideration and most importantly who is voting?
Cape Town History
On 6 April 1652, a man named Jan van Riebeck from the Netherlands arrived with 3 ships, accompanied by 82 men and 8 women in a city that is known today as Cape Town. He established VOC Cape Colony – the first permanent European settlement in South Africa.
The city’s purpose was to be the first European outpost at the Castle of Good Hope. The city became the economic and cultural hub of the Cape Colony and later became a British colony.
Although there were locals living in the region for thousands of years, Jan van Riebeck is known as the man who discovered the city. He was quoted as describing locals as “dull, stupid and odorous” and as “black stinking dogs”. Despite the illegal occupation of land and slavery, he is still celebrated as the man who “founded” Cape Town.
Cape Town went through colonization, slavery, naval battles around its shores and Apartheid. The people of Cape Town and South Africa were deeply affected by this especially during the Apartheid era where the government introduced a law dictating where people can live based on their skin color.
The Group Areas act led to forceful removals and some people were killed.
Non-white South African’s in the region ended up in Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain, Gugulethu, Mfuleni, Philippi, and Nyanga (The most dangerous township in South Africa).
If you’ve watched the movie District 9, you’ll know it was inspired by real events that took place in Cape Town, South Africa. District 6, a predominantly colored area with a minority white population located near the docks, had been a thriving residential community since the 1800s. In 1966, the apartheid government declared it a whites-only zone. Between 1968 and 1982 over 60,000 residents were forcibly relocated to the Cape Flats area, considered the “dumping ground” for undesirables.
Government officials then declared District 6 a slum, unfit for habitation. All of the buildings were destroyed, to pave the way for new whites-only infrastructure.
Not only did this happen in Cape Town but it affected all non-whites around the country. Today (2019) you still find towns like Orania where black people aren’t allowed and the government isn’t doing anything about it. You also find many rural communities that are predominately black which is understandable due to unequal income distribution and not having anywhere to go.
Is Cape Town Safe for tourists
Cape Town has the feel and looks of a European city and tourists love it as they feel like they are home in their western countries and it gives them bragging rights to tell their friends they’ve been to Africa.
The truth is, the city of Cape Town is divided into two: Where tourists go and where most non-white people live. Cape Town is relatively safe to visit if you stay in areas like Camps Bay, Hout Bay, Waterfront and Seapoint.
If you venture out of the tourist towns you will find places like Mitchells Plain, Cape Flats, and Nyanga.
In these areas rape, murder and bloodshed are a daily occurrence.
The violence largely stems from escalating turf battles between gangs that traffic in drugs, weapons, and illicit goods like abalone, a shellfish prized by poachers.
According to the latest South African police crime statistics, Nyanga remains the murder capital of South Africa, even though there has been a 6.2% decrease in the number of cases in 2018/19.
In July 2019, the government sent the South African National Defense Force (military) to Cape Town to help fight gangs in Cape Town.
Generally, Cape Town is safe for tourists and often the crime issues are drug-related.
Is Cape Town safe for Black People
Cape Town is the only South African province governed by the largely white-led opposition Democratic Alliance (DA). During the May 2019 elections the African National Congress (ANC) won a majority in eight of the provinces, while the DA won a majority in the Western Cape. It’s been that way since Apartheid ended in 1994.
The party draws its support predominantly from Afrikaans and English-speaking people aged over 35 (65%+), and white people (50%+), as well as the Indian South African community and the Coloured community.
Note: In South Africa, mixed race people are called “coloured”.
If you want to learn more about growing up in South Africa as a mixed-race kid during Apartheid, I highly recommend that you read Trevor Noah’s book, he details how his black mother was jailed for having a relationship with his Swiss-German father.
It’s a must-read if you want to understand the past and present “racial issues” in South Africa.
The World Bank named South Africa as the most unequal country in the world. Cape Town was named the most unequal city in South Africa by Time Magazine.
The are various reports of guest houses and Airbnb’s asking black people to leave in Cape Town. There are random police searches that can lead to arrest and having to spend the night in a jail cell for being in the “wrong area” at the wrong time.
Although Cape Town is generally safe, there is a high chance of experiencing racism in Cape Town than in another part of the country.
Are there white farmer murders in Cape Town?
I always read about this and I have to disagree with most comments online.
No one is targeting white farmers in South Africa. If you read through South Africa’s crime statistics, you will learn about South Africa’s population (7.8% – white, 80.9% – black, 8.8% – colored (mixed race) and 2.5% – Asian) and how crime affects everyone equally.
Is Cape Town safe for solo female travel
Personally, I don’t think Cape Town is safe for first-time solo female travelers.
Around 60 people are murdered every day in South Africa and the majority of the crimes are gang-related and in the Cape Town region.
Although you barely hear of tourists being murdered, this is something to be aware of if you choose to visit Cape Town.
Apps to download before visiting South Africa
- Namola – SA’s leading safety app that helps you receive emergency assistance when you most need it.” The app also supports a family feature to ensure that your loved ones are safe.
- Uber – The best way to get around if you don’t have a car in SA.
- Bull Horns Panic Button – The app allows you to instantly, silently alert your community and emergency responders with just a shake of your phone.
- MySOS SA – a panic button app that supports 2-way voice communication and GPS tracking used by more than 100 000 South Africans. The easy intuitive interface allows you to connect to emergency services.
Female Personal Safety Gadgets for Cape Town
Don’t you wish we lived in a world where the possibility of being assaulted, violated or even murdered wasn’t one of the things to take into consideration when traveling or even just living in your own country?
Traveling South Africa alone as a female is already stressful so make sure you have the right personal safety gadgets for this trip.
Personal safety gadgets for solo female travelers in Cape Town
- Phone Lanyard: A phone sling where I can attach it to my belt/waist/bag so that I don’t drop/lose it (I’d die if anything happens to my phone!) Buy the black one. The elastic is stronger!
- Not your typical money belt: I chose this one and agree with the reviews that the material feels stronger. It’s also moisture-wicking and comfortable to wear! I know some similar products already have zippers but this one feels like it holds better but has no zippers. and acts like Spanx!
- The double-ended S-biner lock: With thousands of claims filed annually for lost items, you need a lock that can turn most handbags into thief-proof!
- Pacsafe Bra Pouch: Ideal to keep your money, IDs and credit cards safe from pickpockets and thieves. The turn-and-snap connector clasp design is different from comparable products, easy to use and prevents the pouch from unsnapping accidentally.
- Pacsafe Cash Belt: It’s metal-free-ish so you can wear it through security without setting off alarms! It holds cash AND your pants up. I love mine!
Hotel room security gadgets for females in Cape Town
- Portable Door Jammer: Use for a door barricade in an Airbnb or hotel to be able to lock yourself in a room.
Is Cape Town safe to live
This depends on the area you choose to live in. It’s also important to note that Cape Town is the most expensive city to live in the country.
Is Cape Town safe to drive around
Yes, it’s safe to drive in Cape Town.
It’s also important to remember that hijackings and smash-and-grab robberies in cars are common.
Read my ultimate guide for driving in South Africa including tips for renting a car in South Africa, what happens if you are caught drinking and driving and important laws to know before driving in South Africa.
Is public transport safe in Cape Town
Most locals use minibus taxis also known as rideshares in other countries. These can be flagged down on the side of the road (there are specific hand signals for different locations) or you can find a taxi at one of the many taxi ranks in the country.
I wouldn’t recommend using this method of transportation because when you don’t know where you are going or how to stop a taxi, you will stand out and might attract attention from the wrong people.
I would recommend using UBER, as the drivers will pick you up and drop you off at the exact location of your choice. It’s also it’s safer (especially at night) and you don’t have to pay in cash.
Is Uber safe in Cape Town?
Uber is the best way to get around in Cape Town.
Is Cape Town safe to visit right now?
Cape Town is safe to visit but you need to take everything mentioned above into consideration.
If you visit South Africa and choose to only stay in Cape Town, chances are you don’t really get to see how the “real” South Africa is.
Although Cape Town is a beautiful city and on many people’s bucket lists these are a few things to know before you visit Cape Town, especially as a non-white person.
South Africa Travel guides
Travel Insurance for South Africa
Use travel insurance while visiting South Africa so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of adventurous activities to do in SA, and it’s best to have peace of mind while driving, hiking and trying some of the best food in the world.
Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.
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