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Traveling To South Africa? Beware Of “Pirate” taxis at the airports

It could be argued that South Africa is one of the most beautiful and pleasant countries on Earth. Most of its citizens are willing to forgive the unpleasant socio-economic circumstances the country routinely finds itself in, whether it be another political upheaval, a disastrous fire in a squatter camp, or even the much maligned e-Tolling.

There is one thing, though, that seems to be ingrained in the hate centres of the average South African’s brain: crime, and airports see their fair share of it.

An airport is a hub of international activity, and thus an attractive prospect for pickpockets, muggers, shoplifters, con-artists and a whole menagerie of other petty criminals. People are not always as wary as they should be. Many are in “holiday mode”, excited to experience a new country.

But crime is ever on the rise, and recently the U.S. Mission to South Africa warned U.S. citizens travelling to South Africa to be especially cautious when arranging ground transport from the airport to their place of residence, as a spree of recent robberies at gunpoint occurred just as the shuttle arrived at the customer’s hotel or guest house. Reports have also been received of shuttle busses being stopped by two vehicles on the road and robbed.

The robbers seem to especially be after jewellery, electronics and money, three items that all travellers tend to carry with them.


There are a few things you can do to lessen your risk. The first, and most important step, is to find a professional shuttle company you can trust. “Pirate” taxis at the airports are a big problem, to such a degree that OR Tambo International posted the following to their website: “Be aware that unofficial or pirate taxis do operate at the OR Tambo International Airport, although efforts have been made to discourage them. Official drivers will not approach you offering their services.” The airport further recommends that the public not utilise these “pirate” taxis.

All official airport taxis appointed by the OR Tambo International Airport will have the official ACSA (Airports Company South Africa) logo displayed on them, whilst pirate taxis will not.

Your safest bet remains to approach a reputable shuttle company online and pre-book your trip. This gives you the peace of mind that you will have a safe and private trip without having to wait around for a taxi to be available. Shuttle companies that offer online bookings are generally quite experienced in the industry and are well able to handle most situations presented to them.

Payment woes are also a thing of the past when you order a shuttle online. Most online shuttle companies accept credit card payments. This eliminates your need to carry a lot of cash with you for transport, ensuring a safer journey for you in the end. You can even arrange with the shuttle company to do a stopover on your way to your final destination, usually for only a small extra fee.

Travelling can be a dangerous activity. In the end, every safety measure you take is effort well spent.