Faq About South Africa

8th July 2010

Your safety is very important to us at AfricanEze and we encourage you to arrange arrival times with people that are expecting you (your hotel, family, etc...); programme emergency numbers onto your phone and take note of the following tips:


Do not pack valuable such as cameras, laptops, money, expensive perfume, etc. in you check-in bags.


Rather leave your expensive jewellery at home.


Place a strong lock on your check-in luggage. If there is a wrapping service for luggage (plastic cling-wrap), use it. It will protect your luggage and minimise risk of theft and breakage.


Do not let your hand luggage out of your sight.


Make copies of your passport and travellers cheques and store them safely.


Use the hotel safe or the one in your room for your valuables and travel documents.


When you go out, do not carry all of your cash and/travellers' cheques with you. Write down your credit card numbers as well as the customer service number for the issuing bank(s), leave this information in the safe in your hotel.


Do not keep valuables in your back pocket or front shirt pocket.


Always be aware of your surroundings and of whomever may be watching you.


Be careful of being distracted! Thieves often work in teams with one person distracting you while the other does the dirty work.


Try not to walk from one place to another; rather use transport. Avoid deserted areas and walking at night.


Don’t act like a tourist :-)  don’t walk around reading a map or guide book and don’t hang your camera around your neck in plain sight.


Do not count money in the open.


Do not leave purses on chairs, under tables, on the backs of chairs or on restroom hooks. If you put a bag on the floor,  hook the leg of your chair through the handles.


Don't loose sight of your credit card when you pay and make sure you are handed back your own card.


Be careful at ATMs. If you feel someone is watching you, walk away! Rather go to the ATM with someone else to keep a look out. Be careful of card swapping.


The emergency number for South Africa is 10111.


Q: How do I avoid getting sunburnt?


A: South Africa is known for its lovely weather and all-year sunshine. Don't be caught unawares, since you can easily be burnt, especially if you are not used to so much sunshine. CANSA makes the following suggestions for sun-protection. Also look out for the CANSA seal of approval when purchasing your sunscreen.


Avoid direct sunlight between 10am and 3pm and seek shade where possible.


Cover up by wearing thickly-woven hats with wide brims and loose-fitting clothes made of tightly-woven fabric that are cool, but will block out harmful UV rays. Look out for UV protective swimsuits and beach wear.


Always apply sunscreen of Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 or higher to all exposed skin areas. Re-apply regularly and after towel-drying or swimming.


Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with UV protection.


Use lip balm with a minimum of SPF 20 and apply regularly.


Take special care to protect children. Babies younger than one year should not be exposed to direct sunlight.

Q: Do I need Malaria tablets?


A: Few areas in South Africa are high risk for Malaria, mostly the Far North Eastern sections including the Kruger National Park. Make sure to buy some HELFIN.

Q: What is a robot?


A: Travellers have often been confused by South Africans referring to robots when providing directions. Don't worry SA - has not been taken over by artificially intelligent beings. The term "robot" is used to refer to a "traffic light" in Mzansi.

Q: What about tipping?


A: Tipping is a common practise in restuarants and pubs or bars. The accepted tip is 10%, but if the service was very good, feel free to tip 15-20%.


Vehicles are often watched by car-guards. These men and women watch the car to prevent theft and usually help with pulling in or out of parking. There is no fixed rate, generally a few coins are given (R3-R5). This tipping practice also applies to petrol attendents.


Q: What is up with the strange handshakes?


A: Many people greet with a three-phase handshake. The handshake is sometimes known as the African or Comrade handshake. It is both a greeting and a sign of respect and friendship. Here's how it goes:


Grip the other person's hand in the common European handshake


Open your hand and twist your grip slightly upwards to grip the other person's thumb with all your fingers


Open your hand and twist your hand slightly downward to grip in the common European handshake


If done correctly, the whole handshake looks like one smooth movement. You will also find that some people shake in the traditional European fashion but grip their right arm above the wrist with their left hand. This is a sign of respect. Gripping the right wrist is also often done when handing someone something. It shows that the other person is important enough for you to devote your entire attention to her or him.


Q: How do I access medical care?


A: Both a public and private care systems exist in SA. Hospitals are accessible through the emergency units, while doctors can be located through the telephone directory. Pharmacies are also fairly common.  Hospital pharmacies are usually accessible 24 hours a day / 7 days a week for emergencies. The water in South Africa is safe to drink.

Q: When are your public holidays?


A: In cities, shops still open for a short time on public holidays. All state offices are closed though. If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the next day (Monday) is taken as the public holiday.


1 January - New Year's Day

21 March - Human Rights Day 

9 April (Good Friday)

12 April - Family Day (the Monday after Easter Sunday)

27 April - Freedom Day

1 May - Workers Day

16 June - Youth Day

9 August - Women's Day

24 September - Heritage Day

16 December - Day of Reconciliation

25 December - Christmas Day

26 December - Day of Goodwill


Q: How do I greet the South African way?


A: The African or European handshake is often used. The most common verbal greetings are:


Hallo!  Hello in Afrikaans (pronounced the same as in English) 
Molo!   Hello in Xhosa
Sawubona!  Hello in Zulu
 Dumela! Hello in Sotho
Thank You
Dankie! Thank you in Afrikaans
Enkosi!  Thank you in Xhosa
Siyabonga!    Thank you in Zulu
Ke a le boga!  Thank you in Sotho 

Good Bye
Afrikaans: Tot siens!  
If you’re going - Sala Kak’hle, meaning stay well
If you’re staying - Hamba Kak’hle, meaning go well

If you’re going - Sala Kahle, meaning stay well
If you’re staying - Hamba Kahle, meaning go well

If you’re going - Sala hantle, meaning stay well
If you’re staying - Tsamaya hantle, meaning go well
People often say Sharp!  With a thumbs-up gesture and a wink to say: "Thank you! I appreciate it!".