Many students who are looking at coming to Cape Town are concerned about safety and security issues. This is a legitimate concern and always something one should look into before leaving the safety of your comfort zone – the place you know and trust.
Cape Town, as with any big city in the world, has its fair share of crime. But, common sense about safety and security will help you avoid any uncomfortable situations. The following tips are not specifically for Cape Town, but should be used wherever you are in the world!
Here are some general tips from the UCT English Language Centre staff and students:
- When you walk around during the day, keep your eyes on your possessions at all times. Don’t flash expensive cameras and cell phones around, and make sure your bag can close properly. If you are wearing a backpack, do not leave wallets or purses in the outside pockets because this makes it easy for long fingers to open and take without you even noticing. Rather put valuables inside the backpack, preferably at the bottom or even in another secure pocket inside the bag.
- At night, avoid dark places where no one is around. Rather take a cab or taxi to get around, even if the distance from A to B doesn’t seem that long. You can ask us at the UCT English Language Centre for the telephone number of a reputable taxi service.
- Make a colour photocopy of your passport and visa and carry that around with you rather than your original document, and don’t carry a lot of cash around! Keep cash and/or passports and other important or expensive things like jewellery in a safe place back at your hotel/residence/host family, etc.
- When withdrawing cash from an ATM, do not let anyone (strangers) help you or distract you or speak to you while you are getting money. If you are struggling to withdraw cash, rather take your card and find a bank and go inside to speak to an official bank representative at a teller. To be on the safe side, it is best to use ATMs inside shops or shopping malls, but the same rules apply.
- When paying for anything with your card (petrol, at a restaurant, in a shop, etc.) keep your eye on your card at all times and ask waiters, attendants, etc. to bring the card machine to you so that you can see/watch the transaction.
- Don’t take lifts from strangers, or pick up strangers on the road.
- Save emergency numbers into your phone once you arrive in Cape Town, and always make sure you have airtime.
Cape Town works together with the CCID (Cape City Improvement District) and since its operation has made a tangible difference in the city. As they say “As a result, the Cape Town Central City is considered today to be South Africa’s most vibrant and safest CBD.”
Here is a list of some important phone numbers as published by the Western Cape government.
We promise you that after being here in Cape Town for a few days, you will quickly realise that there is nothing to be afraid of, and common sense will go a long way! Speak to other students and the staff and ask us any questions you may have.