Tourists have been advised to get a tour guide to show them around Bo-Kaap. Picture: Henk Kruger
Cape Town - Bo-Kaap, one of Cape Town’s tourist hot-spots has become a haven for criminals and tourists have been warned to exercise caution when visiting the area.

The warning came after a 24-year-old from Switzerland was robbed at knifepoint by three assailants.

When visiting the city’s oldest multicultural area, tourists have to be “very careful and extra vigilant”, Bo-Kaap Civic Association chairman Osman Shaboodien said yesterday.

The association was aware of a number of crimes, but Shaboodien said there was a tourism plan in place and there was a lack of co-ordination.

He acknowledged that more needed to be done to ensure the safety of visitors to the area.

“We are working towards a safety plan to be put in place, we are also very concerned of this ‘free-for-all’ tactic, where innocent tourists are targeted and their lives are put at risk.”

The Swiss tourist, who did not want his name published, explained how he was robbed during a visit to Bo-Kaap last week.

“I was alone, but surrounded by tourists most of the time. I walked till the corner of Shortmarket Street and Buitengracht, and the decided to go up Shortmarket.

“Suddenly there was no tourist or local to be seen. I was taking pictures of the houses when three guys came behind me and greeted me. I was then threatened with a knife and my belongings were taken, including my camera, cellphone, wallet and a bag containing a green diary,” he said.

Police came within 10 minutes and the neighbourhood was searched for the suspects, he said, but they got away.

“I knew crime rates in South Africa were high when I came. And I do know I experienced violence some people experience on almost a daily basis in some parts of the country. Nevertheless, South Africa is a truly breathtaking country and I hope this story will not have too much of a negative impact on local tourism. I would really thank the lady who helped me by calling the police, and took her time to calm me down. Also I would like to thank local police for responding in such a professional way in dealing with my situation.”

Shaboodien advised tourists not to go to the Bo-Kaap unaccompanied.

“Get a tour guide to show you around. So that you can be similar with the surroundings.” 

Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy said: “We encourage tourists to use the Band Aid programme, a safety programme that assists tourists in the event of an incident. There is also the Tourism Victim Support programme for tourists to address problems.”

Anyone with information can call the nearest police station, Crime Stop at 08600 1011, or SMS Crime Line at 32211.

Cape Argus