Patricia De Lille

South Africa invests nearly $10m into security to provide safety for Ghanaians, other tourists

David Mawuli

South Africa has invested over R174m (almost USD10m) into its public and private security services in the last few months to provide safety for Ghanaians and other travelers who have chosen the country for leisure and business.

South Africa, which ranks among the best tourist destinations in the world, has over the years recorded some attacks on tourists. However, the country has delivered a swift response to the attacks and perceptions about the country in recent years. The government has invested millions of rands to strengthen its security.

The Minister of Tourism of South Africa, Patricia de Lille, disclosed this move during an interview with David Mawuli, editor of MawuliTravels.com and Ghanafuo.com, at the just-ended Africa’s Travel Indaba 2024 held in Durban.

According to Patricia de Lille, South Africa has formed partnerships with both private and public sectors, including the hospitality industry, to provide safe environments for travelers.

“We certainly for the past year formed a partnership with the private sector, police service, National Prosecuting Authority, all provinces and metropolitan cities,” she told David Mawuli on Tuesday, May 14, 2024.

“We launched a safety forum and we have put a plan in place to deal with some perceptions — you know, sometimes, perceptions become a reality.”

She said in 2023, the country invested R174m in its security services. Part of it was used to identify ‘hotspots of most visited tourist sites’ and further recruited over 2,000 young South Africans whose job is to serve as ‘safety monitors’ for tourists.

“Last year, the government invested R174m to train and employ 2,300 young people as safety monitors. We identified what we call hotspots – frequently visited tourist establishments – and after we trained them, we deployed them into those areas, including a place like Table Mountain, where there is also a lot of attacks,” she said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nana Akufo-Addo
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nana Akufo-Addo

The Minister said the private sector has contributed enormously to addressing the security challenges in the country.

One of them is an app called Secura. With this app, visitors visiting South Africa can download and log in the number of days they will spend in the country during their stay.

The security-tracking app can give visitors access to 300 security companies, including South African Police services, in case of any attacks. Health-wise, if there’s a medical emergency like a heart attack, visitors will get access to 200 medical organizations.

She further disclosed that in August 2024, the government launched a Control Operation Room that monitors when there’s a response needed from everywhere.

“We regret attacks on any tourist, and we regret sincerely. So when a tourist gets attacked, we’ve put in place what we call ‘After Care Service’. That tourist will be taken to the nearest police station and helped file some charges (against attackers), and we make sure the tourist is safe and in safe accommodation,” she said.

On the resolutions of criminal cases against visitors, she said: “We contact the embassy or the high commissioner of the country where the tourist will be coming from. We also assist with translation services.”

“Formerly, when a charge is laid with the police and the case gets to court, you have to travel back to South Africa to attend court proceedings. We have changed that now with the National Prosecuting Authority for virtual interconnections. This means you can attend South African court from anywhere around the world.”

“We’ve also got a communication strategy around crime issues and the hospitality industry has come on board. In this case, you find a little [security alert] note in your hotel room. There are just certain places you don’t just go at certain times. So when tourists go on hikes, walks, and all of that, they will be monitored. It really helped us. The summer season is over now but we didn’t have many attacks this year.”

Tourism Minister, Honourable Patricia De Lille
Tourism Minister, Honourable Patricia De Lille

Hon. de Lille revealed that she has further communicated with embassies to echo these security messages to their respective citizens who are willing to visit South Africa.

“In November, I called all the High Commissioners, Console Generals, and Ambassadors together to inform them about our safety plans and asked them to inform their potential tourists planning to visit South Africa. Through our own Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, we shared the plan for all the South African missions across the world.”

“That is what we’ve done for now and we have already seen improvement,” she concluded.

Between January and March this year, South Africa received 1.8 million tourist arrivals from the African continent, marking a significant 74.5% of all arrivals.

Ghana was among the top countries that stood out for its remarkable growth. Ghana recorded a 249.4% surge when compared to 2023, reaching 7,904 arrivals from January to March 2024.

Patricia stated that the recent visa-waiver agreement between Ghana and South Africa contributed to this impressive growth within a short period.

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David Mawuli is a Ghanaian journalist and, travel and food content creator. He kicked off his career as an entertainment reporter and spent 7 years with Pulse.com.gh where he cut his teeth in journalism. David has been nominated for several awards in Ghana but has won two so far. He is currently ranked the 6th top blogger in Ghana. He currently runs MawuliTravels.com alone and is also the Lead Editor at Ghanafuo.com.
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