Wednesday, July 2, 2014

South Africa: Update--It is Always Better When a Local Explains How Dangerous a Country Is

COMMENT: Every now and then I pray that a posting comes along that I have hoped for, because despite my best efforts, I've been unsuccessful in convincing all foreign travelers just how dangerous South Africa actually is.

The below link represents an answer to my prayers: 

http://citizen.co.za/203212/murder-on-the-mountain

Although I've said for years that the US Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security has classified most major South Africa cities as "Critical Threat," such warning have apparently been ineffective, considering that foreign tourists continue to gravitate to this highly dangerous nation, apparently oblivious to the risk.

Yet today, my prayers were answered in the form of a South African who has the luxury of looking back over a lifetime of experience and telling the truth.

In the event you  may be reluctant to consider US-based advice, I urge you to review the travel warning issued by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, please consider this:

http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/South_Africa

A few observations on Australia's travel warning: First of all, I highly applaud Canberra's delineating its categories of risk: (1) Exercise normal safety precautions; (2) Exercise a high degree of caution; (3) Reconsider your need to travel; and (4) DO NOT TRAVEL.

Compared to other government-level foreign affairs agencies, and I've looked at most of them over the years, many governments say they have a a categorized tier system, but then don't use them for the sake of "sugar-coating" security risks.

If you look carefully, the first page of EVERY country-level information sheet reflects http://www.dfat.gov.au clarifies precisely whether Australian citizens should travel "normally, exercise a high degree of caution, reconsider travel or DO NOT TRAVEL."

Please note that the Australian government typically urges "Exercise a high degree of caution" for those nations that are generally considered to be very dangerous either because of criminal or political violence.

The Aussies are predictably consistent in the first page of their "Travel advice" sections for each country in crawling out on a branch and saying how it is. Here, Here!

And, if you're still not convinced, there is this assessment from the British Foreign Office re: South Africa:

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/south-africa/safety-and-security