South Africa is a diverse, mixed and free society and there is little in the way of cultural norms or sensitivities which if not adhered to could cause offense. Business etiquette is very much similar to that of Europe and North America.
The South African rand comes in note denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200, as well as 2- and 5-rand coins. The rand breaks down into 5-, 10-, 20- and 50-cent coins. ATMs and currency exchange vendors are found throughout most of the country, and most establishments in urban centres accept credit and debit card payments.
Nationals of most Western countries, as well as some designated South American and African countries, can visit South Africa for tourist or business purposes for up to 90 days, with stamps issued on arrival. It is advised that one carry their departure ticket. If you have recently been through the “yellow fever belt” in either Africa or South America, you might be required to present a proof of a yellow fever vaccination.
South Africa has 11 official languages, with English being the lingua franca in business and government settings. However, outside of formal setting English is also the most commonly spoken second language for those for whom either Afrikaans or one of the nine indigenous languages is a mother tongue.
Both government offices and businesses are generally open Monday-Friday from 8am to 5pm, with lunch usually lasting from 1-2pm. Malls and shops are typically open from 10am until 6pm or 7pm, and close earlier on Saturdays and Sundays.
As most employed in the service sector fetch small salaries, tipping for most tasks is expected and greatly appreciated.
Health & Safety
First-class private hospitals and clinics exist in and near most urban centres. Well-stocked pharmacies can be found throughout the country. While crime remains an issue, there has been a decrease in recent years and incidents are avoidable so long as one practises common sense and avoids unsafe areas.
SIM cards for local prepaid mobiles can be purchased on the spot from most mobile operators, but require a passport. Prepaid phones can be topped up with printed codes that can be purchased from most petrol stations, supermarkets and convenience goods retailers. Post-paid subscriptions are only available for long-term residents. The international access code for South Africa is +27 and calling abroad requires a double 00 before the dialling code. Both dial-up and broadband internet access are readily available through a large number of competing providers, and prepaid internet and data bundles can be purchased for smartphones for as little as R60 ($7.31) a month. Internet cafes can be found in most areas, and pay-as-you-use WiMAX is available in a number of cafes, hotel lobbies and airports.
The 15-amp round-pin, three-prong plug is used, with a power supply of 220/230 volts AC TRANSPORT: The most common form of public transport are white minibus taxis which pick up and drop off passengers along pre-established routes. As they rarely carry signs and are mostly used by locals’ familiar with the system, they are not recommended for new visitors. There has been a major effort by the government to roll out more dependable public bus services with varying results and take-up. Gauteng province recently opened the country’s first commuter rapid rail service, linking Johannesburg’s Central Business District with OR Tambo International Airport, the surrounding suburbs and Pretoria.
Private drivers are also available through most hotels and travel agencies. Car rental agencies are plentiful and well priced, and the road system is fairly easy to drive and navigate. The national carrier is South African Airways, with an extensive network of routes to most major global destinations. South Africa has three international and six domestic airports, and a number of competing domestic carriers, some of which also serve a selection of holiday and business destinations in nearby African countries.