South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English,

Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga,

Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Most South Africans speak more

than one language, but city life happens in English. Apart

from the official languages, Joburg is home to a babel of

language communities from across the globe.

Communication and Internet access

The local dialling code for Johannesburg landline numbers

is 011. From outside the country or from your cell phone it

is +27 11. Numbers starting with 086 can only be dialled

locally. For directory information, dial 1023 from a landline.

Joburgers love their cellphones, and you’ll see kids as young

as 10 with their own phones. There are four major cell phone

networks and each offers pay-as-you-go as well as contract

call and data options. The network providers have stores in

all major shopping centres, and airtime can be purchased

at supermarkets and petrol stations.

Cell phone networks Vodacom (,

MTN (, Cell C (, 8.ta Telkom

( Website My Broadband (www., offers price comparisons on call and

data packages. Check the website regularly because costs

change frequently.

Rica It’s not the name of a woman but the Regulation

of Interception of Communications and Provision of

Communication-Related Information Act. All mobile SIM

cards must be registered. The law is aimed at assisting law

enforcement agencies to identify the users of cellphone

numbers. To register a SIM card you will need your passport

and proof of the address where you are staying.

Internet access An increasing number of cafés, restaurants

and accommodation establishments offer free wireless.

Speeds are decent but can vary by provider. There are

ongoing attempts to speed things up and you’ll notice

dug-up pavements as fibre-optic cables are being laid.

Pay-as-you-go data packages can be bought in conjunction

with your local SIM card and allow you to surf the Internet

on your smart phone.

IT Corner 7th St and 4th Avenue, Melville, tel. +27 11

482 6090, An urban space for

mobile workers with free wi-fi, technical support, a meeting

room and printing facilities.

Cell phone rentals

Vodacom Rentaphone International Arrivals Hall, O.R.

Tambo International Airport, reservations@cellucity., tel. +27 11 394 8834. Rent SIM cards, phones,

GPS devices, routers, USB modems and satellite phones.

Advanced bookings can be made via email.QOpen Mon–Sun


Internet cafés

Milky Way Internet Café Shop LG03, The Zone, Oxford

Rd, Rosebank, tel. +27 11 447 1295, www.milkyway. Offer public computing facilities with Internet access

starting at R35/h, as well as refreshments. Workstations

can be used at half price from 19:00–23:00 on Sundays and

public holidays.QOpen 08:30–23:00.

For the latest updates, visit

Public holidays

South Africa has 12 public holidays. No matter how

solemn their intention, they are regarded by most as

shopping-extravaganza days. The city slows from

December 16, with the shopping frenzy tapering off between

Christmas Day and early January when Joburgers

head for the coast or to family in other provinces. Most

big malls are open on all public holidays (see Shopping).

Whenever a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday

following it is also a public holiday. This year marks the

20th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy, officially

declared on Freedom Day, April 27, 1994, when the country’s

first democratic elections were held.

January 1

March 21

April 18

April 21

April 27

May 1

June 16

August 9

September 24

December 16

December 25

December 26

New Year’s Day

Human Rights Day

Good Friday

Family Day

Freedom Day

Workers’ Day

Youth Day

National Women’s Day

Heritage Day

Day of Reconciliation

Christmas Day

Day of Goodwill


South Africa is ruled by the African National Congress (ANC),

a liberation movement which became a political party after

fighting against apartheid and for a non-racial democracy.

The country has a multiparty political system and more than

10 political parties in Parliament. National elections are due

to be held this year. The current president is Jacob Zuma.

Banking and money

Currency South Africa’s unit of currency is the rand, known

informally as the “randela” because new banknotes bear the

image of former president Nelson Mandela. The currency

code is ZAR and there are 100 cents in each rand. Banknotes

are issued in denominations of R200, R100, R50, R20 and

R10. Coins come in R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c units.

All prices are rounded off to the nearest 5c.

Banking South Africa has a modern and sophisticated

banking system. Foreign currency can be exchanged at most

retail banks and bureaux de change. Retail bank outlets

can be found in all major shopping centres, and ATMs are

available in malls, some supermarkets and at petrol stations.

Major credit and debit cards (Visa and Mastercard are

the most widely accepted) can be used at most retail and

hospitality establishments and can be used to withdraw

cash at ATMs. The four major retail banks are Absa (www., First National Bank (FNB) (,

Nedbank ( and Standard Bank (www.

Value-added tax (Vat) An indirect tax of 14% levied

on all consumer goods and services, except some basic

foodstuffs. Price tags generally include Vat unless this

amount is separately stated. Non-resident foreign passport

holders visiting South Africa can claim a Vat refund – two

refund offices are located in the international departures hall

of O.R. Tambo International Airport. Present your purchases

and tax invoices for inspection. See

for full details.

February - April 2014

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