South African Police Services (SAPS) has moved swiftly to reassure tourists keen on visiting South Africa that they have their backs. This follows the Boxing Day incident involving a group of tourists, including an Israeli teenager, who were attacked and robbed at their rented accommodation in Phalaborwa, near the Kruger National Park. One of the victims was also raped.
Subsequently Israel issued a travel warning to its nationals intending to visit South Africa citing high crimes and violence. United States had earlier on December 23, 2019 issued a Travel Warning on its State Department website.
SAPS national spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo has however come out to reassure travellers saying the Israeli warning was based on an isolated incidence. He said a joint plan mooted at a recent meeting attended by national police Commissioner Khehla Sithole and Tourism director-general Victor Tharage to train tourist monitors to “eventually become fully-fledged police reservists” was under way.
Naidoo implored tourists not to be discouraged by the “isolated incidents”. He also said South African Tour Operators were being trained on how to use the the My SAPS App which is a tip-off app created by the South African Police.
International Relations and Cooperation Ministry spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said it was “normal for any country to send a warning to its citizens abroad if sensing any threat, But if it was something threatening bilateral relations between the two countries, we would be worried. Hence, we have not received any communique from Israel on this”