Is It Now Unsafe to Travel in South Africa?


A man hold a placard prior to a march against immigrant attacks in South Africa. (Photo: AP)

The number of countries issuing travel advisories against South Africa are growing: China is latest country to issue a warning for the country after xenophobic violence started more than two weeks ago. Australia and the UK have also issued warnings to their citizens.

On April 20, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government posted an alert on its website stating, “Residents intending to visit the country or who are already there should monitor the situation, exercise caution, attend to personal safety and avoid protests and large gatherings of people.”

Attacks against foreigners have been prevalent in parts of Johannesburg and Cape Town where locals have been targeting immigrants from neighboring countries. Last Saturday, a Mozambican named Emmanuel Sithole was murdered in the streets by a group of men in broad daylight. He was the seventh person to die in this latest round of xenophobic violence against poorer immigrants.


Police and soldiers raid a hostel considered a hotspot for anti-immigrant attacks. (Photo: AP)

Locals have also been looting the businesses of migrants from other African countries and setting foreign-owned shops on fire.

According to local media, the attacks are a result of Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s recent declaration that foreigners “should pack their bags and go” because they are taking jobs from citizens.

However, The United Nations said the attacks actually began in March after a labor dispute between citizens and foreign workers.

The United States does not currently have a warning against traveling to South Africa. However, the Bureau of Consular Affairs does warn that incidents of mob violence can spring up quickly in South Africa, and that travelers should  “listen to local media for reports of such incidents and avoid areas (primarily — but not limited to — townships) where they are likely to occur.”

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