Shot in the face and robbed in South Africa's "murder capital," US tourist plans to sue Google Maps

By bne IntelliNews March 5, 2024

An American tourist who was shot in the face and robbed in November 2023 while driving in one of South Africa's crime hotspots has said he will sue vehicle rental company Avis and Google Maps.

Walter Fischel accuses Google Maps of suggesting a shortcut that passed through Nyanga, the crime-ridden zone in Cape Town, South Africa's oldest city and legislative capital. Unidentified people attacked him and robbed him of the rented vehicle.

“Before I came to Cape Town, Google Maps had already known Nyanga was a problem area yet it was still put on the route map," Fischel told News24.

"I am absolutely horrified that this is the treatment I have been subjected to when I certainly did not ask to be so violently attacked on my holiday in Cape Town. I almost died, for Christ's sake," Fischel said.

According to The Telegraph UK, Kar Hao Teoh, a British orthopaedic surgeon, was fatally shot in August 2023 in Nyanga after his GPS allegedly diverted him off an established motorway.

A spate of incidents in that year led the Foreign Office and US State Department to update travel advice and warn visitors against taking GPS navigation shortcuts down back streets.

Google Maps removed Nyanga from shortcuts in November, after talks with the South African tourism authorities.

“Why they did not remove it a long time ago is beyond me. They have caused major damage to my mental health and healing process,” Fischel said.

Africa's most developed nation recorded an average of 75 killings and 400 robberies with aggravating circumstances daily in 2023, AP wrote on January 7.

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