UK red list also points to SA’s high crime rate

Johannesburg – The UK’s decision to not remove South Africa from its travel “red list” despite a sharp decline in new Covid-19 cases and ramped-up vaccination efforts has caused unhappiness in the country.

But a closer look at the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice to South Africa, dated  September 14, lifts the veil on what that the UK government fears about its citizens traveling to Mzansi.

These range from fears about terror attacks, violent crime, and kidnappings. South Africa’s reputation as one of the world’s crime capitals seems to precede it.

Below, we look into the advice the UK gives its citizens who are contemplating visiting our shores.

Violent crime

The UK has warned its citizens that South Africa’s townships are particularly violent.

“South Africa has a high level of crime, including rape and murder. The risk of violent crime to visitors traveling to the main tourist destinations is generally low. The South African authorities prioritise protecting tourists and tourism police are deployed in several towns and cities. The most violent crimes tend to occur in townships on the outskirts of major cities and isolated areas. You should use a reliable tour guide if you visit a township and should not travel to townships without one.”

The advisory also flags the country’s central business districts of major cities as a greater threat of crime (including armed robbery) than suburban areas.


Here, the UK warns travelers that there is an increasing threat of kidnapping throughout South Africa.

“Kidnaps are generally for financial gain or motivated by criminality. In recent years several foreign nationals, including British nationals, have been kidnapped. British nationals can be perceived as being wealthier than locals and may be at
particular risk for financial gain.”

Crime from airports

UK authorities have also flagged crime that takes place after travelers leave the OR Tambo International Airport.

“There have been incidents involving people being followed from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to their destinations and then robbed, often at gunpoint.”


The FCDO warned its citizens that terrorists were likely to try to carry out attacks in South Africa.

“The main threat is from extremists linked to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL). In February 2018, two South African-British nationals were kidnapped and killed.”

Sunday World last month reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa instructed the South African Police Service top brass to urgently submit a report on the state of policing in the country for the past 13 years –  the period between 2009 to 2021.

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