South Africa has hit out at Australia’s travel warning. Picture: iStock
South Africa has hit out at Australia’s travel warning. Picture: iStock

WHAT DID WE DO?: South Africa’s mad at Australia just now

AUSTRALIA has been accused of issuing misleading travel advice that threatens to "tarnish" South Africa's image, as a row between the nations escalates.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) warns travellers to exercise a "high degree of caution" when visiting the country due to the risk of serious crime.

"Crime, including violent crime, is a serious issue in South Africa. Most types of crime are increasing. Be alert," it says, while also criticising local police standards.

Tourists are warned of threats such as murder, rape, muggings, robbery, carjackings and "smash-and-grab" thefts from vehicles. Airports, hotels and safari parks are listed as places where travellers could be targeted.

The advice level is actually the second lowest of four travel warning levels - the next is an alert to "reconsider travel" while the highest level is "do not travel".

The travel advisory has not changed since January, however just yesterday the South Africa government issued a statement saying it "strongly objects" to it.

It alleges that the advice "contains misleading information about South Africa in general and‚ in particular‚ about the experiences of foreign tourists visiting South Africa".

"The travel advisory has the potential not only to deter Australians from visiting South Africa‚ but also to tarnish our country's image," it says.

A map showing the travel advice issued by DFAT. Picture: DFAT
A map showing the travel advice issued by DFAT. Picture: DFAT

South African International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said she would raise the issue with her Australian counterpart Julie Bishop.

The South African government claims that previous attempts to change the travel advice have been denied.

"Officials from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation have in the past requested, without success, that the advisory be amended to reflect the situation in South Africa as it relates to the true experiences of foreign tourists," the statement said.

"The decision to escalate the matter follows these unsuccessful attempts and indicates the seriousness with which the South African government values the contribution of the tourism sector to the economy."

South Africa’s Lindiwe Sisulu says she will raise the issue with Julie Bishop. Picture: Lindiwe Sisulu
South Africa’s Lindiwe Sisulu says she will raise the issue with Julie Bishop. Picture: Lindiwe Sisulu

AUSTRALIA NOT ALONE IN ITS WARNING

However, we're not the only country to warn travellers of the potential dangers of the African country. The UK government has a similar warning on its website, stating: "South Africa has a very high level of crime, including rape and murder."

However it notes: "The most violent crimes tend to occur in townships, remote and isolated areas and away from the normal tourist destinations."

Meanwhile, the US Department of State has the same advice level for South Africa as Australia does, also cautioning travellers on the crime risks.

"Exercise increased caution in South Africa due to crime and drought," it states.

"Violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and 'smash-and-grab' attacks on vehicles, is common. There is a higher risk of violent crime in the central business districts of major cities after dark."

The travel warning issued by DFAT. Picture: DFAT
The travel warning issued by DFAT. Picture: DFAT

A WORSENING SPAT

The two countries are already in a row over Australia's recent offer to grant fast-track visas to white South African farmers who want to emigrate because of crime and planned land reforms.

The visa offer provoked a sharp reaction from South Africa, which last month summoned the Australian ambassador after a minister said white farmers were being "persecuted".

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the farmers deserved special attention to enable them to flee "horrific circumstances [for a] civilised country".

South Africa's government has vowed to enact land expropriations without compensation to redress imbalances from the colonial and apartheid eras. Up to 500,000 white South Africans have left the country in the past 30 years, according to official statistics, with Australia ranking as the top destination.

According to police, 74 farmers were murdered between 2016 and 2017 in South Africa, which has one of the world's highest crime rates.

 

- With wires


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