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If you have an emergency while traveling in South Africa, it is useful to know what numbers to call.
It is highly recommended to have a mobile phone with you at all times in case you need to make an emergency phone call. This is especially important in rural areas where you may be far from the nearest telephone.
The nationwide emergency phone number for the police is 10111 - you will not need to dial an area code. For more details on the South African Police Service, go to the SAPS website for more information: http://www.saps.gov.za
The nationwide emergency phone number for the ambulance service is 10177 - you will not need to dial an area code. Ambulance services are run by both the provincial health departments as well as private companies. The largest private emergency response company is Netcare911. They will respond to emergencies whether you are a member or not and their number is 082 911. Go to The Netcare911 website for more information: www.netcare911.co.za
The mobile phone companies have their own emergency numbers which can be dialed even if the phone is out of credit or locked:
The number for Cell C is 084 -140
The number for Vodacom is 082 - 147
The number for MTN is 083 - 112
However, the standard GSM emergency number (112) number should work on all mobile phone providers, regardless of whether or not the phone has credit.
If you have sufficient funding or a good medical insurance scheme, the private medical services - like Netcare - are amongst the best in the world and private hospitals are clean and modern with efficient staff and doctors. Compared to other parts of the world, these private services are relatively inexpensive. For example an appointment at the GP will only cost the equivalent of around £16 and you will probably obtain a same day consultation. However, if you don't have the cash or the insurance, the government hospitals can be a stark contrast to the private ones, depending on which one you use, and you may still be charged private rates, despite facing the usual problems of understaffing and oversubscribed services. If you have the cash or a good medical insurance policy, it is worth booking into a private facility. If you can't do that, the government facilities are sufficient, but expect longer waiting times, large crowds, more rushed staff and older equipment.