South Africa voices ‘strong objection’ to Australian travel warning

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AUSTRALIA has been accused of issuing misleading travel advice threatening to "tarnish" South Africa's image as a number of nations escalate.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) warns travelers to show a "high degree of caution" when they visit the country because of the risk of serious crime.

"Crime, including violent crime, is a serious issue in South Africa. Most types of crime are increasing. Be aware," he said, criticizing 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 travelers could be targeted.

The counseling level is actually the second lowest of four warning levels – the next is a warning to "rethink travel" while the highest level is "do not travel".

Travel protection has not changed since January, but yesterday the South African government issued a statement on that said "strong object" for it.

It claims that the councils "contain misleading information about South Africa in general and especially about experiences from foreign tourists visiting South Africa."

"Travel Advice has the potential not only to deter Australians from visiting South Africa, but also to delaying our country's image, "says it.

South African prime minister Lindiwe Sisulu said she would raise the issue with her Australian counterpart Julie Bishop.

The South African government argues that previous attempts to change the travel directorate have been denied.

"Officials of the Institute for International Relations and Cooperation have previously requested that the counseling be changed to reflect the situation in South Africa as it concerns true experiences from foreign tourists," the opinion stated.

"The decision to escalate the case follows these failed attempts and indicates how seriously the South African government appreciates the tourism sector's contribution to the economy."

AUSTRALIA NOT ALL IN THAT WARNING

However, we are not the only country that warns travelers about the potential dangers of the African country. The British Government has a similar warning on its website which states: "South Africa has a very high crime level, including rape and murder."

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

At the same time, the US Department of State has the same level of counseling for South Africa like Australia, and also warns travelers on crime risks.

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

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

A WORSENING SPAT

The two countries are already in touch with Australia's latest offer to provide fast-track visas to white South African farmers who want to emigrate because of crime and planned land reform.

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

The Australian Minister for Interior Minister Peter Dutton said that farmers deserved special attention that they could escape "awful circumstances [for a] civilized land".

The government of South Africa has promised to approve land pledges without compensation to remedy imbalances from colonial and apartheid periods. Up to 500,000 white South Africans have left the country for the last 30 years, according to official statistics, with Australia's ranking as the best destination.

According to the 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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