May 28th, 2010
03:46 AM ET

U.S. issues travel alert for South Africa

The State Department has issued a travel alert warning U.S. citizens in South Africa to be aware of increased terrorism risks during the World Cup, which starts June 11.

"Large scale public events like the World Cup may present a wide range of attractive targets for terrorists," the alert said.

"There is a heightened risk that extremist groups will conduct terrorist acts within South Africa in the near future."

However, the State Department said, there was no specific information on any threat.

Any credible threats will be conveyed to the public, the alert said, urging all U.S. citizens to register with the embassy in South Africa to enable them to get updated security information.

The alert issued Thursday urged Americans to be aware of their surroundings and warned that crime is prevalent in the country. It urged visitors not to wear expensive jewelry and ensure valuables were not in plain view.

"While driving, keep doors locked and windows closed ... and when stopping at intersections at night or in isolated locations, leave enough space in front of your vehicle for a quick exit."

The alert comes as Vice President Joe Biden gears up for a trip to Egypt, Kenya and South Africa during the week of June 7. Biden will represent the United States in the opening ceremonies of the World Cup.

This World Cup ends on July 11.

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Filed under: South Africa
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. birdman

    Thats right....more fear and propaganda for your silly people. better warn those us tourists about the lions and man eating ants too..:)

    May 28, 2010 at 4:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Messernacht

      Lions and Tigers and Ants, oh my!

      May 28, 2010 at 6:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Stan

      I am a South African now living in Canada . After all of these years of trying to check terrorism one would think that the US STATE DEPT would know the difference between terrorism and street crime. Yes, it is very important to clock car doors and windows in SA but that is to reduce the options for criminals on the strret – but oh, the State De[pt thinks that these are terorist attacks. The safest place in SA will be inside the stadiums because of the security checks but driving at night in undesired locations will be a risk – but hey would you do that in Chicago, LA etc AND noit expect crime (opps terrorism!)

      May 28, 2010 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
    • brian

      hey dumb dumb, we actually have people trying to kill us every day.

      May 28, 2010 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • diaryofamisEducatedblackman

      I dunno Birdman, i definitely expect something to pop off down there because its such a big draw and opportunity for terrorist. I think its ok to warn ppl.
      http://diaryofamiseducatedblackman.com/

      May 28, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  2. Scott

    This is why these alerts are worthless...did a warning go out about the SuperBowl (yes, I know it's domestic so the State Dept. wouldn't be involved)? I don't recall seeing one for the Winter Olympics either-Oooooh, wait, that was in Canada and the State Department isn't about to upset our neighbors to the north, where an actual terror attack would be more likely than in South Africa. And Americans wonder why the world thinks we're so stupid...

    And another thing, S. Africa has been identified as the host nation for years, so why would they wait until 2 weeks before the tournament starts to issue a warning? Nothing like waiting until everybody has already made their plans to throw out a random warning. A "heightened risk"? Is that more or less than the Orange Alert that we all deal with throughout America right now?

    May 28, 2010 at 5:27 am | Report abuse |
    • onewhosbeenthere

      Scott – you have no idea what you are talking about. Travel a little and then talk from a place of knowledge. Joberg is dangerous. Canada is like a childs playground compared to the poverty and violence in urban South Africa. Open your eyes and get off the couch. You might learn something

      May 28, 2010 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
    • brian

      South Africa is an extremely dangerous place to visit. Crime and reduced security capacities result in an unsafe and dangerous environment. Anyone who travels a little knows to avoid most of Africa and S. Africa in particular.

      May 28, 2010 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. Don

    Glad to seeBiden's coming here to visit Kenya- Sometimes the State department- in an overabundance of caution- can overreach. They should take a positive step to offset this (what will be perceived in S.A.) as a negative step and finally cancel their travel advisory to Kenya. The issues a few years back have been resolved, and they are always political between competing interests and never involve non-Kenyans. The vast majority of the people here far more friendly and welcoming than most Europeans or Americans, and the safaris and scenery are stunning. An American in Kenya

    May 28, 2010 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. Damião Carlos

    It seems to me that, this is a risk wherever you are you are going to find out terrorists. http://www.englishtips-self-taught.blogspot.com

    May 28, 2010 at 5:45 am | Report abuse |
  5. WW

    The FACT of the matter here folks is simple... Americans traveling there are far more likely to be in dangerous personal safety situations than here in (most 95%) of the US. You may not want to admit it – and nor may your 'lions' – but that's the fact.

    May 28, 2010 at 6:14 am | Report abuse |
    • zmyohmy

      The fact of the matter is that everytime I LEAVE the U.S.A I feel more safe than I ever do in my own country - at all hours of the day and walking alone!

      May 28, 2010 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. Monique Smits

    Let is all expect peace and not the worst, wherever we go. The World Cup is intended to reunite and promote "sportmanship".

    May 28, 2010 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
    • zmyohmy

      Das right - the terrorists love the sport more than all of America so chances are they're not gonna cause any disruptions! Basically the terrorists win!

      May 28, 2010 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
    • rmsbl4

      @moni I guess those were only friendly killings of those players a couple of months ago in Africa.

      May 28, 2010 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  7. Cincinnati

    Wow. This is great news. We have the same here in all Ohio

    May 28, 2010 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  8. zmyohmy

    "While driving, keep doors locked and windows closed ... "

    Profound, simply profound advice. I'm so glad my government keeps me 'safe.'

    Oh, and don't worry about your jewelry while in S.A. most white South Africans own much more valuable diamonds and gold than you will ever dream of owning!

    May 28, 2010 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
    • WW

      oh now now... i've traveled the world and have been robbed at knife popint in broad daylight in open market while in SA. that was 5 years ago... meanwhile, i've never had that happen to me in US. sooooo?

      May 28, 2010 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      " most white South Africans own much more valuable diamonds and gold than you will ever dream of owning!"

      You must be out of your mind!!! Most white South Africans struggle to feed their children, much less have gold. And I am so tired of the "white" label already! If you keep calling me racist, at some point I may as well be one. " Did the time, may as well do the crime"
      Maybe you will be happy once all whites in South Africa are murdered out, that day does not seem far off. If there are to be no whites in Africa why is it okay for blacks to be in America?

      May 28, 2010 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. al

    I sense some bitterness here, people. Terrorist issue – unlikely, but the crime in SA is pervasive. Been there, done that. Know that commuting is dangerous and so is sleeping in your own bed at night. Have a few friends and family still left in SA who keep us informed. Many places are now a nightmare in SA. Face the truth, please.

    May 28, 2010 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
    • RexMagnus

      Good comment! You might save a life or two!

      May 28, 2010 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      You miss the point entirely. This article wasn't about the general safety of S. Africa-it is about the State Department warning regarding terrorism, nothing more, nothing less. The bulletin identifies NO specific known threats, just that things are more dangerous in crowded places (thanks for that helpful tip Mrs. Clinton) like sporting events. So, Onewhohasbeenthere, my initial comment still stands-why wasn't such an alert issued for Vancouver a few months ago?

      As for your other silly conclusions, Onewhohasbeenthere, I'm currently in London (England), just got back from Istanbul, and will be in S. Africa for the World Cup in 5 weeks. I have dated a S. African and know many others, so I am hardly ignorant about world travel-maybe you'd like to compare passport stamps? You could do with some critical thinking lessons too: the general threat level for terrorism in the US right now is Yellow, and its Orange for ALL air travel within the US; what I want to know is why has this event been singled out? I just read the State Department's bulletin on the country and it sounds pretty tame to me-certainly nothing in it that makes me fear S. Africa more than Detroit, or Philly, or NYC. Grow up people, America isn't any more safe than the rest of the world, and in many way, has a much bigger target painted on it than most places, so let's quit the xenophobic fear-mongering by the government.

      May 28, 2010 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
    • dosomeresearch

      A warning was issued by the State Department for travel to Vancouver for the Olympics.

      Also, if you read the actual alert, there are a number of topics addressed, including terrorism, crime, even lodging and transportation. It never claims to be limited to terrorist threats.

      I'm constantly amazed by the comments posted on CNN by readers. Remember, just because you live in a country that allows you to say what's on your mind doesn't mean that you won't sound like a complete idiot when you say it.

      May 28, 2010 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  10. BettyLou Who

    Been there several times. Crime is better but still not safe in many areas. Tourist absolutely need to be aware and not flaunt money or expensive possessions. Closing the windows is not a bad idea either. SA is a beautiful country and can be a wonderful tourist area if they can get the crime under control. The South African people are wonderful. Be mindful and you will have a great time.

    May 28, 2010 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. damiao

    American is a nice people, however the intervencionism's policies cause terror around the world, it is not safe to travel around the world, not only for American, but the rest of the world. http://www.englishtips-self-taught.blogstpo.com

    May 28, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  12. damiao

    American is a nice people, however the intervencionism's policies cause terror around the world, it is not safe to travel around the world, not only for American, but the rest of the world. http://www.englishtips-self-taught.blogspot.com

    May 28, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. Flowderdy Dress

    Yeesh, it was just a warning. Calm down, folks.

    May 28, 2010 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  14. ForFarkSakes

    The terrorists are now the government in SA. They achieved their goals by bombing and maiming innocent people. The US was implicit in getting the ANC in power in SA, and now they warn of potential terrorist threats!!! Laughable.

    There is always a threat that some organization will use mass gatherings of people to make a statement. That threat is no higher in SA than anywhere else. In fact it is probably a lot lower in SA.

    Far better advice from the state department would have been to warn more strongly about common crime in SA. Violent crime is pervasive throughout the country. Yes there are areas in the US where this is also true. The difference is the widespread occurrence and the excessive violence linked to crime in SA.
    Tourists are more at risk than locals because they are not accustomed to crime as much as South Africans are. It is part of everyday life in SA, and residents are attuned to it. Tourists are not.

    May 28, 2010 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  15. Matt

    There have already been threats made, especially for the US vs England match. I basically thought of this as a non-story because it had come out a while back. With many US citizens looking to travel there this is just letting them know that before leave to be weary. Still, I have always taken these threats with a grain of salt and thought of them as fear tools, especially when they state, "However, the State Department said, there was no specific information on any threat." Does mean there isn't a specific threat or they are not giving out information on a specific threat? It's too bad that S. Africa was able to complete the stadiums in time (from an American's point of view that wants to attend some games). The US was an emergency outlet in case S Africa could not handle the games. Hopefully we get them again in 2018 but more than likely 2022.

    May 28, 2010 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
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