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South Africa-Australia spat moves to travel advisory

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South Africa on Wednesday expressed anger over Australia’s travel advisory that warns tourists to exercise a “high degree of caution” when visiting the country, citing the risk of serious crime.

The two countries are already in a row over Australia’s recent offer to grant fast-track visas to white South African farmers who want to emigrate because of crime and planned land reforms.

The visa offer provoked a sharp reaction from South Africa, which last month summoned the Australian ambassador after a minister said white farmers were being “persecuted”.

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the farmers deserved special attention to enable them to flee “horrific circumstances (for a) civilised country”.

Australia has not changed its travel advisory since January, but South Africa on Wednesday complained that it contained “misleading information”.

The advisory says that tourists should “exercise a high degree of caution because of high levels of serious crime.”

“Crime, including violent crime, is a serious issue in South Africa. Most types of crime are increasing. Be alert,” it says, while also criticising local police standards.

It lists threats including murder, rape, muggings, robbery, carjackings and “smash and grab” thefts from vehicles, and warns that tourists are targeted at airports, hotels and in safari parks.

The South Africa government said it “strongly objects” to the advisory, which it said “has the potential not only to deter Australians from visiting South Africa, but also to tarnish our country’s image.”

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said she would raise the issue with her Australian counterpart.

South Africa’s government has vowed to enact land expropriations without compensation to redress imbalances from the colonial and apartheid eras.

Up to 500,000 white South Africans have left the country in the past 30 years, according to official statistics, with Australia ranking as the top destination.

According to police, 74 farmers were murdered between 2016 and 2017 in South Africa, which has one of the world’s highest crime rates.

AFP


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