Think Outside the Box
Do you know any Americans living outside of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban? If so, the U.S. Consulate would appreciate receiving their contact details to possibly serve as a U.S. Warden in the more rural areas. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to provide contact details.
Does the U.S. Consulate know that you and your family are living in South Africa?
If you’re not sure of the answer to that question, we suggest that you take a few steps to register on STEP (https://step.state.gov/step/). This will ensure that you receive important security and safety notices but will also make certain that you are on the distribution list for any other Consulate notices and invitations. Please contact email@example.com with any questions.
Security and Safety: 18 Safety tips from the US Consulate
If you have been here a week or for a year or a decade, you already know that one of the most common topics of discussion among expats and locals alike in South Africa is the issue of personal safety. The street smarts that we bring from home may not be entirely applicable to Johannesburg, and some of the things that we should be doing we may find culturally uncomfortable. Here are some reminders to help keep you and your family safety:
- Maintain a low profile. Do not wear items that draw attention to you such as expensive or flashy jewelry.
- Do not consume excessive amounts of alcohol in public.
- Try not to drive alone, use the buddy system if possible, especially for female drivers.
- Always keep your car doors locked. Keep your windows up. Ensure your windows have smash and grab film.
- Even as a vehicle passenger, stay alert and observant.
- Try to leave ample maneuvering space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. If you are approached by a suspicious person while you are stopped, do not roll down a window. Be prepared to drive away quickly. Do not buy newspapers, food, or drinks from street vendors or give money to street performers or beggars.
- If another driver tries to force you to pull over or to cut you off, keep driving and try to leave the area. Try to note the license place number, a description of the car and driver. If this effort places you in danger, do not do it. The information is not as important as your safety.
- If you feel you are being followed, or harassed by another driver, never drive back to your home or stop and get out. Drive to the nearest police station or public facility. Once there, don’t worry about using a legal parking space. Park as close as you can, get inside fast, and contact the police. You can verify surveillance by going completely around an arbitrarily chosen block and see if you are followed.
- When parking, look for a spot that offers good lighting and is close to a location where there are a lot of people. Ask a security officer to walk you to your vehicle if you feel is it warranted.
- Vary your times and routes to and from work.
- Keep your doors and windows locked as much as possible at your residence.
- Re-enforcing your bedroom door with extra locks will by your family some time before the police arrive.
- Check the interior and exterior of your vehicle prior to getting into your vehicle. Look for things that are irregular or abnormal.
- Ensure that your colleagues and family are aware of your daily plans and know how to reach you.
- Schedules that are the most predictable leave you the most vulnerable. Be unpredictable when possible in both your work and social schedules. Do not have a set day for shopping, errands and personal needs.
- Never give out your personal information such as family member and household staff names, addresses and telephone numbers in an open setting.
- Be aware of choke points in your travel routes and try to avoid them when possible. Be wary of diversions such as staged accidents (bumper tap to get you to stop), broken down vehicles (especially near your residence), obstructions across roads, or individuals loitering near your vehicle entrance.
- Ensure all of your family members are briefed on security measures, and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE THEM.