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Country Reports

South Africa Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as president on 15 February 2018, a day after engineering the resignation of Jacob Zuma who was facing a no-confidence vote. Few ministers survived Ramaphosa's first cabinet reshuffle on 26 February, which swept aside most individuals tainted by their close association with Zuma and implication in state capture allegations, and demoted others. Highly respected ministers Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan were restored to spearhead critical remedial action in the finance ministry and state-owned enterprises, respectively. A new negotiated mining charter is likely soon after the Chamber of Mines withdrew its legal challenge. Ramaphosa has a difficult balancing act over land expropriation, which parliament voted in favour of on 28 February, but which he wouldprefer to apply in a very limited sense.

Last update: March 27, 2018

Operational Outlook

Inter-union rivalry contributes to increased strike and violence risks, particularly in the precious metal mining sector, amid an ongoing influence battle. Rivalry is likely to grow in other sectors such as manufacturing, since the metalworkers' union was expelled from COSATU. The issue of corruption has been increasingly dominating political debate since the end of 2016. President Zuma's position within the ANC, the party itself, and South Africa's reputation with investors have been badly damaged by the release of information appearing to support the public protector's report on 'state capture' by private business interests.

Last update: March 27, 2018

Terrorism

Elevated

The likelihood of an attack by or inspired by international terrorist groups remains low despite the abduction and probable murder in February 2018 of two British botanists. The suspects arrested had links with the Islamic State and evidence suggests a clear terrorist motivation. However, radicalisation remains likely to be confined to individuals or small groups with a violent agenda. Recurring incidents of anti-immigrant violence in South Africa have drawn threats of retaliatory attacks by militant groups such as Somalia's Al-Shabaab and Nigeria's Boko Haram, although neither of these movements has the logistical and operational capability or local support to strike so far from their heartland.

Last update: March 27, 2018

War Risks

Moderate

South Africa plays a limited but important peacekeeping role on the African continent, notably in the DRC, where it contributes troops and helicopters to the UN mission. Funding and capacity limitations, coupled with public opinion and a conservative foreign relations policy, limits the likelihood of wider peacekeeping commitments or further deployments. A new political crisis in Lesotho has resulted in a limited regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) intervention with a 300-strong force in December 2017. South Africa will continue to play a prominent role, after years of leading diplomatic efforts to stabilise the country.

Last update: March 27, 2018

Social Stability

Very high

Within city centres, social unrest risks stem largely from political protests, while persistent service delivery-related demonstrations are confined to townships. While the scale and intensity of political protests has abated significantly with the removal of Jacob Zuma as president, activists' focus is likely to turn to demands for implementation of land expropriation without compensation. The radical Economic Freedom Fighters party is likely to join pressure groups to call for constitutional and legislative change before the general election in May 2019. Protests over delivery of public services in poor neighbourhoods particularly often become violent, but are usually contained within these localities.

Last update: March 27, 2018

Health Risk

Severe

Vaccinations required to enter the country

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Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and over one year of age and for travelers who have been in transit >12 hours in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission. 

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B : A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers over one year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and from Eritrea, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Zambia. Vaccination is also required if the traveler has been in transit in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission.
Last update: June 1, 2016

Natural Risks

High

The Cape region may experience heavy rains, floods, and landslides during the austral winter (June to August).

Many areas, especially in the province of Western Cape (Cape region), are also affected by bush fires during the austral summer (December to February), which tend to cause extensive material damage and traffic problems. In January 2017, significant wildfires caused the destruction of several properties in Somerset West. 

Last update: February 13, 2018

Transportation

Elevated

Most modes of transportation are considered relatively safe (roads, Gautrain, national airlines, etc.).

South Africa has good airport infrastructure serving large cities. South African airlines (domestic and low-cost) operate in accordance with international safety standards. It is advised to remain vigilant in airports, as numerous baggage thefts are reported. Similarly, cases of travelers who were followed from the airport to their home to be attacked, have been recorded. It is advisable to organize your arrival at the airport prior to departure.

The Gautrain high-speed rail line linking Johannesburg and OR Tambo International Airport as well as Pretoria can be taken safely. It is recommended, however, to not use the old railway line "Metro" between Johannesburg and Pretoria, where many bandits operate. Management of the rail network is often criticized by South Africans who denounce the insufficient amount of funds given to this sector.

Major highways crossing the country are in good condition. However, secondary roads - especially in provinces of Eastern Cape and Limpopo - are often poorly maintained and/or unpaved. While driving in South Africa, remain alert for animals, people walking alongside the road, dangerous overtaking, and lack of lighting in some areas. Driving in rural areas at night should be strictly avoided. Roads around North Kwazulu and Zuzuland are particularly dangerous at night, as numerous robberies were reported, especially on secondary roads. Fatal car accidents occur frequently as vehicles are poorly maintained and there is a general lack of respect for road rules.

The use of a chauffeured vehicle is recommended to get acclimated to a city's environment. It is worth noting that in South Africa motorists drive on the left side of the road, which will require special attention for those accustomed to driving on the right.

Furthermore, it is essential to be particularly vigilant on roads, as thieves are known to employ various methods to stop a vehicle (e.g. placing stones on the road, simulating car breakdown, impersonating and dressing like police officers, or hitchhiking). Finally, it is recommended to keep belongings out of sight and to lock car doors while driving. When traveling over long distances, cars should be stocked with adequate supplies of water, food, and fuel. Ensure that the vehicle contains spare mechanical parts (wheels, cables, etc.) and has an effective means of telecommunication.

Tourists and business travelers should never travel alone or at night; it is best to travel in groups of at least three. Travelers are also advised to avoid taking public transit and to instead travel by chauffeured car as much as possible. Driving should be limited as much as possible to daylight hours and windows should remain rolled up and doors locked. Avoid minibus services due to the dangerous driving practices of bus drivers and potential mechanical failures of old, worn vehicles.

Last update: February 13, 2018

Infrastructure

The use of mobile and internet telephones is widespread in the country. Mobile phone reception tends to be good in cities and major towns, but may be sporadic in more rural areas.

Last update: February 13, 2018

Practical Information

Climate

The climate in South Africa varies considerably from one region to another. The northwest is arid while the central and northeastern areas are less so. The monsoon brings heavy rains in the summer (January-April), particularly to the Johannesburg coast. Temperatures are highest from December until March (summer). Temperatures can fall below freezing in winter months and snow is not rare at higher elevations, notably in the Drakensberg mountain range.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +27
Police: 110

Electricity

Voltage: 220/230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: January 27, 2014