When applying at UCT as an international student, or postdoctoral fellow bear in mind that Cape Town is a city of about four million people, and all large cities can be unsafe. If you take sensible precautions, however, there is no need to feel insecure or unsafe. We want you to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Cape Town, and for this reason we suggest taking certain health and safety precautions.
• High-quality tap (faucet) water is available across the city and is both palatable and safe to drink straight from the tap.
• We have a warm sunny climate and you should wear sunscreen and a hat whenever you are outdoors during the day, even when it is overcast.
• Not to worry, Cape Town is a malaria – free city..
• If you are an adult, you won't need any inoculations unless you are travelling from a yellow-fever endemic areas, in which case you will need verification to prove your inoculation status when you arrive in the country.
• Hepatitis B inoculations are recommended for children up to the age of 12 who have not completed the series of injections as infants.
• If you suffer from any allergies or medical condition, you should wear a medical ID bracelet, which is call a MedicAlert bracelet in South Africa, obtainable from MedicAlert.
• Medical facilities at UCT, as well as in the greater Cape Town area are world-class. Should you require medical assistance, please access the following link: UCT Private Hospital.
• For minor ailments, Cape Town has many 24-hour pharmacies, where trained pharmacists will be available for advice and over-the-counter medicine.
• Outside of regular GP practice hours you can find urgent medical help at private hospitals, for which you will be charged special emergency unit fees.
• Always avoid walking in dark and deserted areas.
• Do not walk around alone at night. The UCT residences suggest that students should always go out in groups of 3 to 5 people.
• Avoid carrying large sums of cash, or carrying cameras or videos cameras and expensive jewellery in plain sight.
• Do not allow strangers to assist you in any way at ATM's, and limit their use to daylight hours in busy centres.
• Remember - your life is more valuable than your possessions.
• Keep photocopies of all valuable documents in a safe place.
• You might be approached by street children and beggars for hand-outs. Many social workers counsel against giving money to the children as it usually gets handed over to an older person or it is used to purchase drugs. If you wish to do good rather give food, donate your change to a registered charity, or contact SHAWCO, a student-run NGO at UCT.
• When you are going out, always inform someone about where you are going and make sure you are properly equipped for where you are going. Always avoid going alone into areas you do not know, even during the daytime.
• Do not hike, climb, surf or swim in the ocean alone.
• Go into a shop or ask security personnel for directions. Do not stop strangers in the street.
• Public transport in Cape Town is adequate and is safe to use during the day during working hours. Avoid using trains, buses and minibus taxis at night. If you are stranded, phone a reputable metered taxi service.
Please note: (Differences in modes of transport)
• Should you wish to explore the nightlife in the city, we advise that you make use of a certified copy of your passport/Identity document as the original documents are invaluable and can result in a tedious process should they need to be replace if lost.
• UCT's Campus Protection Service (CPS) operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
• UCT is a founder member and donor to the Groote Schuur Community Improvement District (GSCID), which aims to deal with neighbourhood crime, and various problems faced by persons in the area. All SSA off-campus housing is located within the GSCID area.
• Be crime conscious - be aware of crime opportunities and your surroundings at all times.
• If a stranger wants to talk to you while in a vehicle, do not open the window wide -only 5 cm is enough to have a discussion.
• If someone seems suspicious and are a stranger, do not talk to them; rather be rude and drive/walk away.
• If strangers loiter near or at your driveway, rather drive/walk past. If they loiter for a long time, report it to your nearest police station.
• If your car is bumped from behind and you do not feel comfortable with the individual(s) involved in the situation, drive to the nearest police station for help.
• If you get robbed do not resist, especially if the thief has a weapon.
• Do not give strangers a lift.
• Always lock your car, and consider buying a gear lock, an affordable and effective anti-theft device.
• Never drink and drive, or go in a car driven by someone who has been drinking. The legal age for purchasing alcohol in South Africa is 18.
• Click the following link for more information.
How to respond should you experience a break-in:
• Remain passive - don't attack the intruder.
• Gather your friends/family into a small space, such as a bedroom, which you can defend should the intruder try to enter that space.
• Alert your armed response, such as by pushing a panic button or pressing the pre-programmed speed dial on your cell phone.
How to respond should you be held hostage:
• Remain passive, calm and co-operative. Don't look directly at the attacker - this increases his/her risk of being identified by you at a later stage and consequently increases your risk of being harmed.
• Sometimes we feel defenceless in an attack situation. It is important to remember that you are not defenceless, especially as adults. Your greatest defences can be what you already possess: your intellect, voice, reasoning, negotiating skills, and the ability to calm yourself. If you see yourself as helpless and defenceless, you are more likely to feel victimised.
For more information please access the following link for Health, Counselling and Safety.
The trauma room at Rondebosch police station advises that the key to helping someone who has gone through a traumatic experience is to be a willing listener. Often, people don't want advice, but rather want someone who will comfort them and listen to the recounting of their experience.
Adults and children benefit from post-traumatic counselling and it would be advisable to contact someone in this regard should you go through a traumatic situation. A helpful tool in the recovery process is to prepare for future incidents with some kind of self-protection device or skill. This may include buying a pepper spray or taking a self-defence course.
Trauma counselling can be obtained from LifeLine by phoning 0861 322 322 in Cape Town, or 011 728 1347 in Johannesburg.
Important numbers to take note of:
All emergencies (From a cellphone) 112
All emergencies (From a landline) 107
South African Police Services (SAPS) 10111
UCT students and staff emergencies 021 650 2222/3
Netcare Private ambulance 082 911
ER24 Private ambulance 082 124