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World Cup robberies: Six tips for a safe visit to South Africa

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Carlos Barria/Reuters

(Read caption) A security guard stands outside an ATM machine in downtown Cape Town, South Africa.

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The armed robbery of three foreign journalists sent to cover the World Cup on Tuesday night – near the Portuguese team's base camp in Magaliesburg, north of Johannesburg – underlines what many South Africans consider to be their country’s greatest challenge for the World Cup games: Security.

Initial reports of the robbery of the journalists indicate that thieves broke into their rooms at the four-star Nutbush Boma Lodge near Magaliesburg at around 4 a.m., while the journalists were asleep. The robbers held their victims at gunpoint, and stole cameras, passports, and cash.

South Africa’s violent crime rate – for rape, aggravated robbery, and murder – is among the highest in the world, although increased spending on law enforcement has steadily brought those numbers down since the end of apartheid and the beginning of majority rule in 1994.

Statistically, the vast majority of the estimated 325,000 visitors coming to attend the World Cup games will likely be untouched by all of this, but here are some security tips, from Johan Burger of the Institute for Security Studies and from the South African Police Service, to help reduce risk.

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