Eight years ago we arrived in South Africa to begin our expat life. The country was poised to host the Soccer World Cup, the first on African soil. I remember that at the time there were heated debates whether tourists would dare travel to a place so notorious for the crime on its streets. Here is a look at how South Africa has changed since then in terms of crime and security.
Driving in South Africa comes with a few caveats. And it's not driving on the left side of the road, for those who are not accustomed to it, though that is also the case. The real challenge comes from the South African traffic police randomly stopping you to solicit bribes. It's important for you to know your rights and the law so that you can't be bullied into paying a bribe.
If you could do everything in your power to keep yourself and your children safe, wouldn't you do it? Yes, you will say. But not so fast. Not just in South Africa, but anywhere, there is a price you pay for safety. Or rather, you get benefits when easing up a little on the safety. It's the old question of freedom versus security: It's not possible to have 100% of each at the same time.
Not much can be so anxiety-inducing as being stopped by the police in a foreign country. Especially in a country such as South Africa, where there is no shortage of horror stories about crime and corruption (even though they can also be humorous rather than frightening). The question is this: Should I bribe the cops when they stop me? If not, what SHOULD I do?
"Meet Our Man in Tehran." I was intrigued by the article behind this headline in the New York Times. It sounds a little "John le Carré" to me, suggesting intrigue, spies, and perhaps some exotic food. It occurred to me right then that "Meet Our Woman in Johannesburg" doesn't sound all that different, and that this might be a headline I could use to introduce myself.
Anybody following this blog knows that I absolutely love South Africa. But let me tell you about one thing I absolutely hate about South Africa: Corruption. Or actually, thievery might be a better word. There are many people in South Africa who think that it's perfectly fine to take something that's not theirs. There are also many honest people, to be sure, but this article won't be about them.
South Africans are early risers, and they are early Christmas shoppers, too. By mid-October, you will find your local supermarket decked in Christmas decorations and delicatessen, and plenty of reindeer and snowmen will be grinning at you as you are buying your groceries. No wonder that the well-organized in these parts start making provisions for the Festive Seasons early.
Once you've got a reputation, it's hard to get rid of it. So it is for Johannesburg. It's been stuck with the "World's Crime Capital" label ever since the post-Apartheid years of the early 1990s, when indeed horrible things did happen in Joburg and other parts of South Africa. And while it's not the safest place in the world now, it's nothing close to what some people online make you believe.
I’ve told you before about getting your car serviced in South Africa and the need to remove all your valuables from your car before dropping it off, but recently I encountered a whole new dimension to this.
We were driving back from the Kruger Park, through beautiful landscapes on roads winding ...
We were once prospective expats who knew next to nothing about South Africa and were not at all sure we should even move there. I remember being excited initially and going online to check out any available information, and my jaw dropping - this country was a cesspit of crime and we were about to be murdered. Or so it said on every expat-related forum I came across.