At different points during this three-city whistle stop tour, Trust and Logan had the same message for visitors — blend in. Trust, drove me from the airport in Johannesburg and Logan took us around Durban. Act with confidence, like they say in the ad line back home, and tourists should be all right, the drivers said.
“If you are lost somewhere, don’t let it show. Just walk into a store and ask for directions and people will go out of their way to help,” Logan said.
Trust, who prefers being called that rather than his African name Temba which means the same thing, said if you are lost while driving, go to the nearest police station or petrol pump. “Don’t ask people on the road.”
“Also, when you stop at a crossing, watch around you instead of focussing only on the road. And if in the worst-case scenario, you get unlucky, just give whatever they want.”
Carjacked once, trust him to know what he’s talking about. “I was driving a BMW and got stopped. I put my hands up and got out of the car. They were so keen to drive away that they didn’t realise I was carrying a cell phone. I called my office, they got in touch with the police and in 15 minutes, the robbers were nabbed,” Trust said.
Keeping your room locked, no matter how expensive a hotel you are staying in, not inviting anyone unless you know them really well and travelling in groups were some of the other Trust mantra to being safe in South Africa.
Talking security is a country which documented 18,143 murders, 35,000 rapes and 15,000 carjacking incidents between April 2008 and March 2009 and where 50 people are murdered every day (the highest in a non-war zone) though isn't like touching a raw nerve.
City representatives in Johannesburg, Cape Town and even Danny Jordaan, CEO of the FIFA World Cup organising committee, accepted it is a concern but are confident of incident-free World Cup finals.
“Only a country without jails can be said to be crime free,” Jordaan said. “Yes, crime is an issue here but none of the 140-odd events, including a summit for Sustainable Development where then US President George Bush took part and the Indian Premier League which we hosted during South Africa’s general elections, had an incident,” Visa Naidoo, Superintendent of South African Police said in Johannesburg.
“The only incident involving a fatality happened during the AIDS Congress where a Moroccan was found dead in his hotel room and three prostitutes were arrested in connection with the murder,” Naidoo said.
In a bid to ensure a safe finals for the 500,000 expected visitors, Naidoo said South Africa have invested 665 million rand on equipment upgradation and will have bolstered their police force by 55,000 come the finals. “You might get tired of looking at policemen by the time the finals end,” Naidoo said.