Reports, Travel

No trusting GPS in South Africa

No trusting GPS in South Africa

No trusting GPS in South Africa by the CIA: Updated to reflect safety considerations when using GPS navigation. Exercise increased caution in South Africa due to crime and civil unrest.

Country Summary by the CIA

Violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and “smash-and-grab” attacks on vehicles, is common. There is a higher risk of violent crime in the central business districts of major cities after dark.

Using GPS navigation can lead to unsafe routes. GPS navigation may suggest shortcuts through townships as the quickest preferred route but can lead to increased risks of crime.

There have been incidents in which tourists travelling in Cape Town while using GPS navigation apps have been routed through residential areas with high rates of violent crime. The safest approach to return a rental car to Cape Town International Airport is to take the N2 highway and follow signs to Airport Approach Rd (exit 16). Alternatively, request the rental car company to collect your vehicle and subsequently arrange an airport transfer from established taxi companies or established ridesharing services to reach the airport.

Demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently. These can develop quickly without prior notification, often interrupting traffic, transportation, and other services; such events can potentially turn violent.

If you decide to travel to South Africa:

  • Research your route in advance, stay on major highways, avoid shortcuts through townships, and avoid reliance on GPS navigation apps.
  • Avoid walking alone, especially after dark.
  • Avoid visiting informal settlement areas unless you are with someone familiar with the area.
  • Do not display cash or valuables.
  • Drive with doors locked and windows closed.
  • Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Country Security Report for South Africa.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.

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