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Is it safe to visit Cape Town?

Updated: Mar 17, 2020

Keeping citizens and visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape safe is a top priority for the region. Like many other destinations in the world, Cape Town and the Western Cape have areas that are grappling with the unacceptable impact of crime. However, the implementation of various safety initiatives is seeing improvements in the levels of safety in Cape Town and the Western Cape.

Tourism Safety Initiatives for Cape Town and the Western Cape

There are many tourism safety initiatives such as increased law enforcement deployment, technology expansion and safety awareness at work aimed at providing a safer environment for all.

The national government has extended the deployment of the defence force until 31 March 2021 in the Cape Flats. The Cape Flats is an area 20km to 30km outside the central business district (CBD) and tourism hub of Cape Town. The deployment is a collaborative and targeted effort to ensure greater safety of local communities. 

The Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) is a public-private partnership established in 2000 and mandated to offer top-up services to those provided by its primary partners, the City of Cape Town and the South African Police Services (SAPS). The CCID deploys about 250 permanent Public Security Officers, with an average of 90 per shift, with five response vehicles as back-up. This deployment has been boosted by a 45-man team to increase the security presence in the CBD and manage anti-social behaviour and other minor offences.

The CCID also has a group of 20 Cape Town City Law Enforcement Officers working 24/7 and six Traffic Wardens to deal with non-moving violations and peak-hour congestion.

ATM fraud is an incident a visitor can potentially be exposed to when travelling. A joint project between the CCID, the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) and the Department of Community Safety (DOCS) was launched in December 2017, aimed at cracking down on ATM Fraud.

Students from the Chrysalis Academy have been placed for 12 months with the CCID after they graduate from a three-month residential training programme. During this time, they monitor hotspot ATMs within the CBD of Cape Town at certain times of the day and receive a stipend for fulfilling this ambassadorial role.

At present, there are 18 students on the project, deployed in pairs to eight locations, on average, every day. Seniors monitor them. 

The CCID has also embarked on an awareness campaign, in partnership with the hospitality sector and Cape Town Tourism, at all hotels to alert visitors to Cape Town on current ATM scams being used by fraudsters who prey on tourists. This safety initiative will continue until March 2020.

The Bo Kaap (Malay Quarter) is an area situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above Cape Town city centre and is the historical centre of the Cape Malay culture. It is also an area often frequented by citizens and visitors wishing to photograph the colourfully painted homes and taste the local cuisine. To assist visitors to the City, Cape Town Tourism has employed TravelWise Ambassadors who will monitor the area and aid if need be. 

At the heart of our Cape Town is the 46 000 acres Table Mountain Park. The park has an estimated 200kms of hiking paths and is free for all to access. 86 tourism monitors can be found on the most popular trails to assist and ensure tourism safety. The deployment of a further 14 monitors will take place over the next few months.

Our open and well-developed road infrastructure in the Western Cape allows one the perfect opportunity to travel. Since 2009, the deployment of an invisible layer of police on the roads has occurred. They are known as the "Ghost Squad". A first for the country at launch it is one of the many innovative approaches the City of Cape Town has taken to keep our citizens and visitors safe on our roads. 

The squad uses unmarked vehicles working irregular hours to clamp down on offences ranging from skipping red traffic lights to reckless negligent and drunk driving.

Safety precautions to take when visiting Cape Town and the Western Cape

While we are doing our best to assist in keeping our visitors safe, we urge all visitors to take precautions to reduce their risk – the same precautions they would take no matter where in the world their travels take them.

Tourism Safety Support Programmes

DEDAT and Cape Town Tourism run tourism support programmes that aid visitors who may be in distress during their stay in Cape Town and the Western Cape. Should one of your guests be the unfortunate victim of crime, the team can assist with replacing lost documents, facilitating victim support, assistance in providing emergency accommodation and transfers, assist in laying a charge with SAPs, help with the changing of itineraries and contacting the banks in the event of bank card fraud.

Cape Town Tourism Band-Aid Programme: 

Call: 021 487 6552 / 0861 3222 23

DEDAT Tourism Safety and Support Programme:

Cape Town, Cape Winelands, Cape West Coast and Cape Overberg:

Call: 072 447 1504 or 082 554 2010

Garden Route and Klein Karoo:

Call: 082 972 2507

Public Emergency Communication Centre (24-hour call centre):

Call 107 (landline) and 021 480 7700 (from a cellphone)