Cape Town: Safety
Cape Town is a moderately dangerous city, but don’t let what you hear on TV turn you off, i.e. that if you stop at a traffic light in the middle of town you’ll be mugged and shot down at gunpoint. If you’re not a retard and you stay away from townships and dodgy areas, don’t walk alone on the streets at night and don’t get in black taxis,* you should be alright. It’s just common sense: you wouldn’t walk down a dark alleyway if you were off your face in Surfers Paradise, so don’t do it there either. HOWEVER, I was there with locals, who also happened to be male, which definitely made things a lot easier.
Here’s a little story of one of my only scary moments.
Admittedly Cape Town doesn’t have a great public transport system for tourists, especially at night when you’re out drinking. I was staying with a set of twins, one of whom I had lived with in England on my Gap Yah. We always had one of their cars if we were going out (they’re not exactly strict on the whole drink-driving thing over there) or had organised one of their parents to pick us up. One night, however, the boys’ parents headed off to sleep early, so we decided to walk down to a club about 1.5km from their house. The trip was taking us a while (probably because we were all boozed and not quite walking straight), so two of the guys decided it would be quicker to hail the black taxi they saw driving past. One of the twins jumped in (he spoke Xhosa and was extremely liberal and friendly) with one of the Australians I was travelling with. Needless to say, within five minutes their fare had jumped from 7.50 rand to 750 rand, they had pen knives and screw drivers pressing up against their backs and a few minutes later, they rejoined the group without shoes, wallets or phones. (Don’t ever protest if you are held up for your things: just give your assailants what they want. It’s not fair I know, but it’s a lot easier and safer). The next morning, we all had to sit down together and get lectured by the twins’ parents about how stupid we were to be walking along the streets at night. Of course none of us were allowed to mention that two of our party had gotten in the taxi, because their father would have killed the guilty twin.
*Excuse that I’m calling them black taxis – it’s just what everyone calls them over there. And don’t be alarmed when everyone refers to each other as black, white and coloured.