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South Africa’s desperate spiral has made it unsafe for tourists

Cape town sight seeing
Cape town sight seeing

Recently listeners to a commercial radio station heard the hosts give away a prize of a holiday in South Africa to one of their listeners after he correctly guessed a word game, or some equally anodyne achievement.

But South Africa is clearly not currently a safe place for British tourists. It is on a desperately spiralling path, socially, economically and politically and it should not be a holiday destination for British tourists now or indeed for the foreseeable future.

Readers have probably heard of South Africa’s out-of-control crime figures. The murder rate in the UK is 1 in 100,000, while in South Africa it is 46 times higher and in the top 10 of the most dangerous countries in the world.

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But the government of South Africa is seeking to deflect from its myriad failures and is moving the country geopolitically towards the axis of Putin’s Russia and the master terrorists who rule in Iran.

In February last year, the BBC reported that South Africa participated in a 10-day joint naval exercise with the Russian and Chinese Naval fleets in the Indian Ocean.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa with other brics leaders
Under president Cyril Ramaphosa South Africa has become more closely aligned with other BRICS countries - GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/Pool via REUTERS

And last summer, at the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi reached an agreement with South Africa to “develop and equip” five oil refineries in the African state.

Before Christmas, Iran’s Mahan Air, apparently affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), received two RJ85 passenger aircraft from South Africa, evading aviation sanctions against Iran, according to aviation expert and author Babak Taghvaee from Crisis Watch.

Meanwhile in early December, in the immediate aftermath of the savage pogrom of 7th October, Africa News reported that terrorist leaders of Hamas visited South Africa as honoured guests of the South African government. In the preceding days, they had also taken part in a “conference” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We are disgusted by Hamas’ presence in South Africa,” said the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. The spokesman for another South African Jewish organisation said they condemned “the audacious admittance of extremists and terrorists into our country by the South African government, raising serious concerns about their potential involvement in fomenting extremism within our borders.”

It is in this context that South Africa launched its offensive and meritless court case against Israel at the ICJ. Offensive because it is a travesty of the truth and because genocide is a term particularly poignant and meaningful for Jews.

The court rejected South Africa’s central claim which was to order a ceasefire and so the battle to defeat Hamas continues apace in Gaza. The court merely required Israel to abide by international law, which of course it is already doing, as qualified international lawyers recognise.

South Africa has recently banned Daniel Teeger, a freelance journalist and university lecturer, from captaining the South Africa Under 19s cricket team, because he is Jewish and he spoke up for Israel.

The move prompted the US government’s antisemitism ambassador Deborah Lipstadt to criticise South Africa for its actions and my colleague in the House of Commons, Andrew Percy MP, to raise questions with the Foreign Office about the safety of Jews in South Africa and the adequacy of FCDO travel advice to Brits contemplating travelling there.

Anyone planning to holiday in South Africa right now should, at the very least, ensure their travel insurance is up to date.

Sir Michael Ellis KC is the Conservative MP for Northampton North