Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cape Town is a safe and friendly city

We get quite a high percentage of foreign guests inquiring for accommodation or staying at our affordable self catering accommodation in the peaceful and quiet Noordhoek valley. They often ask about personal safety and crime in Cape Town before venturing into the big city.

I think it fair to say that every big city is troubled by crime to one extent or another. I can recall being warned by the police against walking in Long Beach California more than twenty years ago and similarly being cautioned in downtown New Orleans by police to go straight back to my hotel in the French quarter for my own safety. Let me reassure visitors that you will find that Cape Town is a safe and friendly city and one in which you can happily spend the day walking and window shopping. You will find its streets vibrant with an eclectic mixture of African and European cultures. Many of the streets have been turned into delightful, picturesque pedestrian malls where you can mix with the locals, purchase African handicrafts and art works from little stalls and sample all kinds of wonderful street food from almost every corner of the globe. It is an unhurried city, and unblighted by heavy traffic, except at morning and evening peak hours.
In fact I can hardly think of a better way to spend a day than walking the streets of Cape Town with its wonderful mixture of architecture ranging from eighteenth century Dutch through to ornate Victorian and twentieth century modern. Having lived here on and off most of my life, I still never tire of walking in the city. You may well be gently accosted by the odd street urchin looking for a handout or one of the quite harmless vagrants who often take shelter on the mountain and on known locally as “bergies”. One should bear in mind that unemployment in our country is high and therefore there are many people struggling to make ends meet and to find a way to put bread on the table. Whether you help out is up to you, but unlike many other international cities we seldom find that those looking for handouts adopt any sort of aggression.
Whilst the entire city, including the beautiful gardens established by the Dutch East India company, at the top of Adderley street are interesting, perfectly safe and very inviting to wander during the day, it is not a good idea to do this at night, although there would be no problem traveling to and from a specific destination such as a restaurant in the city.

Regrettably Tourists are particularly vulnerable to petty crime, including purse snatching and pickpocketing as they are in any large city. Visitors to Cape Town have generally traveled internationally and would know that it is not a good idea to be too obvious as a tourist and to avoid flaunting expensive jewelry, carrying large amounts of cash or very expensive camera equipment. If you are driving a car, I do suggest that you should keep the doors locked while driving and do not leave obvious temptation such as a handbag, purse, laptop computer or camera visible on the seats because snatching from cars, whilst not common, is not unknown. If you do have such things in the car and stop at a shopping mall, I suggest that you stow and lock them securely in the boot (trunk) of your car.
The city of Cape Town is very aware of how important tourism is and has developed an extensive safety plan in partnership with business aimed particularly at providing a secure environment for the 2010 World Soccer cup. Cape Town's Central Business District and major malls have made considerable efforts to safeguard tourists against crime. Surveillance cameras now monitor activities in the Central Business District and security guards watch over the major shopping centres. The opening matches of the Indian Premier Cricket league have been hosted in our beautiful city at short notice with no incidents reported in spite of 1000,s of foreign visitors arriving for the matches.
The U.S. Foreign Policy (FP) recently announced the names of five cities that stand in a class of their own when it comes to brutal, homicidal violence, with Cape Town regrettably high on the list. To put it in perspective however, it also found that the city's homicides usually take place in suburban townships rather than in the more upscale urban areas where tourists visit. According to the South African Police Service, most of the Cape Town area's violent crimes happen between people who know one another; this is a consequence of unemployment and drug abuse , but will not impact upon tourists.
It is a good idea if you decide to hike or walk up Table mountain to hire a guide, particularly for women on their own. Larger groups are much safer.

Noordhoek, where you will find our secure, comfortable and affordable self catering holiday accommodation is a peaceful country valley, just 30 minutes from the big city. Here we have very little traffic and if your personal safety is a concern this best kept secret destination of Cape Town is the place where you and your family can stay with confidence. People walk the streets, sharing with joggers and cyclists and crime is amongst the lowest in South Africa. Our guests enjoy strolling to the nearby shoping mall and exploring the long stretch of beautiful white sand that makes up Noordhoek’s Long Beach. It is an ideal venue from which to explore all of the attractions of Cape Town, the wind lands and go on to other destinations in the Western Cape.
In order that you should be prepared for any eventuality, the following phone numbers will be useful and should be programmed into your mobile phone.

Emergency Services Contact Numbers:
Ambulance: 10177Flying Squad: 10111Mountain Rescue: 10111Police: 467 8000Police (Tourist Assistance Unit): 418 2852

No comments:

Post a Comment