Thursday, 18 November 2010

Cape Town safety in perspective

Only a week ago Jon and I, in our opening addresses at the three MEI Conferences, assured delegates that Cape Town was one of the safest cities, providing that common sense rules were obeyed.

So it is sadly ironic that, only a few day later, the British press have descended on Cape Town, in the wake of the tragic murder of a British tourist. This will no doubt lead to the usual frenzy of reporting on how South Africa is unsafe for tourists, while overlooking the numerous knifings and muggings which take place all too frequently in London and other major cities.

The British couple had driven into Gugulethu, a township with one of the worst records of violence, late at night, thus blatantly disregarding the basic rules- avoid no-go areas, do not walk alone at night, and use licensed taxis where possible.

Jon and Kathryn are now back in the UK, but last night Amanda, Barbara and I experienced the friendliness of this wonderful city, which had been so apparent during the recent football World Cup. We walked the two and a half kilometre Fan Walk from the centre of the city to the impressive Green Point stadium to see South Africa (Bafana Bafana) lose 1-0 to USA. The capacity crowd, of all races, was good natured, and there was not a hint of the yobbish behaviour and violence that is often associated with football matches in Europe.

So I reiterate the advice given last week. Don't be afraid of coming to South Africa. It is a stunningly beautiful country, with friendly people of all colours and creeds. Take common sense precautions and enjoy all that it has to offer.

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