Before I go on to give my thoughts about the issue and rebuke some of the popular arguments doing the round , let's quickly put people to ease regarding visiting South Africa and the crime here.
The fact that this has made huge headlines for days and days in South Africa should already tell you it's an extremely rare and freakish type of event. South Africa is a very safe place to visit. But don't just take my word for it.
Firstly read this regarding tourist murders in Australia. As you will see...
Despite some media headlines labelling Australia as an unsafe place to visit, this paper provides factual information indicating that the risk of homicide victimisation faced by tourists who visit Australia is extremely low. Between 1994 and 2003, the murder rate of tourists was 0.9 per million short-term visitors to Australia
So we can all agree, Australia is not a dangerous place to visit. But how does South Africa hold up in comparison ?
Well imagine we were as dangerous as Australia. That would mean we would have 10 tourists a year killed here. Is that the case ? Absolutely not ! South Africa has far less tourist murders a year than this. As you can see when we do have a tourist murder it's huge news to South Africans. I'll get onto why exactly that is later.
So as we can see Tourists for the gross part escape South Africa's high crime rate. To illustrate this, if tourists suffered the same levels of crime than everyday poor South Africans we would see 3400 tourists murdered a year (34 per 100 000). For white South Africans that would mean 1700 a year or 4.6 a day (again a highly inflated number). Why are these numbers for whites and tourists so inflated beyond reality ?
You see crime in South Africa is not random. It's for the gross part extremely predictable. Young black and coloured males for the gross majority are doing it to other young black and coloured males. 1 in 11 murders happen to women and then it's 80% likely to happen at the hands of her husband or partner. The point is as a tourist or white person you're just not in a high risk group, and for you anyway, South Africa is really no more dangerous than anywhere else out of Western Europe.
But make no mistake there are people out there who want you to believe South Africa is unlivable. Who spend an extremely disproportionate part of their time rushing around the Internet to tell "the bad news". Who are these people ?
Almost all of them are people who left South Africa and they deeply miss it and are mostly unhappy in their new countries so they need to force themselves to believe it's same war zone to get through the day. Others who left just suffer from schadenfreude and want to tear out their hair at the thought of others being happy in South Africa and take pleasure when something like this murder happens.
Also many who left were the victims of crimes which helped confirm their bias perceptions rather than just seeing that in context crimes happen anywhere in the world. These people have a confirmation bias regarding South Africa, but mostly regarding black people. They will broadly ignore anything positive about South Africa such as murder being down 50% since 1994, and all the economic and social gains and focus on things such as this murder so they can offer an "I told you so."
A combination of these two, along with genuinely shocked and ashamed South Africans speak as to why there is so much shock over this tourist murder. Of course though the most part about this is South Africans feel such an incident puts our crime issues into focus of an international audience and rightly feel it's a good way for them to expose the situation and put pressure on the government. I wouldn't say they are too far wrong, but do people really need MORE awareness of the crime situation in South Africa ? I wouldn't have thought so. Already people have an extremely warped and pessimistic perception about the continent but especially South Africa as it is. But clearly I'm not 100% right on this, as why would a tourist ask to be taken to a notoriously dangerous township at 11pm at night ?
For me this blog encourages people to visit South Africa , so of course I have extremely mixed feelings about this. I have been writing this blog since 2007 and this is the first time I've had to answer to this type of thing. But after a lot of thought I concluded that I've never said South Africa has no dangers. I've just put into perspective how unlikely they are to happen to you as a tourist. And I will continue to do so just as I would encourage people to visit Thailand.A country which has an extremely high rate of tourist murders relative to South Africa. I would encourage them to visit the Philippines where I was hijacked.
But that's just rational me. I can't bring myself to worry about a thing that has far less chance of happening than dying in a car crash, because I drive a car every single day. That thousand of times less likely that dying young of cancer, or a heart attack. All things considered to avoid places like Thailand (or relatively safer South Africa) adds something like a 0.1 in a million to my chances of dying. Heck , just to put things into perspective I did some sums and adding a cup of rooibos to my diet gives me about 1500 in a million less chance of dying (assuming the science about anti oxidants ability to fight off cancer cells is correct.)
Right...business calls....maybe more on this later. Here's the husband basically saying what I'm saying by the way.