The 2017/18 SA Crime Stats make for some difficult reading, outlining just how much trouble our country is in. Cape Town and Johannesburg frequently rub shoulders with the cities of troubled countries such as Venezuela, Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico in many Top 15 most dangerous cities in the world lists.
South Africa as a country, according to publications such as Forbes, doesn’t fare much better, often ranked as one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
Certainly, car hijacking is one of the biggest threats that South Africans face, day in and day out as we venture out into what Minister of Police, Bheki Cele , recently called ‘close to a war zone.’
Hijacking is a booming business, with low life criminals and syndicates targeting innocent victims anywhere from their very own driveways to shopping malls to schools to red light robots. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, or if there are witnesses, or if your children are in the car with you – the common South African criminal is a debased, brazen degenerate.
The recent crime stats, released in September, revealed that as many as 45 carjackings are committed each and every day.
In recently speaking to eNCA, Phillip Opperman, South African president of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators, said that there are typically two categories of vehicles being hijacked in South Africa.
- Commercial vehicles – hijacked for the load, and;
- High-value SUV vehicles – hijacked according to order.
While it is important to remember that no particular car is popular, as such, Opperman has highlighted three specific SUVs which have proven to be targeted above all others. These are:
According to Opperman, as technology increases, hijackers are no longer able to deploy tricks to steal unattended cars, and have to resort to hijacking them instead. Opperman also added that incidences of hijacked motorists being held hostage and forced to withdraw money from an ATM have also seen a huge increase.
Opperman added that there has been an increase in the number of incidences where hijacked motorists are held hostage and forced to withdraw money from an ATM by the hijackers.
” Not only are these hijackers holding them but women are raped and men are badly beaten – it’s a crisis. “
Cars that act as additional revenue are seen as a bonus, and while one criminal attempts to uninstall the vehicle’s tracking device, others will search the vehicle and its occupants for additional valuables.
Despite this, Opperman insists that 87% of vehicles hijacked with a tracking device are recovered, and so it is still valuable to have one.
Disheartening Hijack Stats – By Province
How To Prevent A Hijacking
- We recently gave you the most dangerous areas in SA, by province. Should you live in any of these areas – or anywhere really – you need to be alert. Concentrate on your surroundings when paused at a red light, stop street or pulling into your driveway. Check your driveway and street before you leave or enter your premises. Should any unknown pedestrians be lurking close to your gate, pass and go back later.
- If you have an electric gate, do not pull into your driveway before opening the gate. It’s better to open the gate while your car is still in the road, to allow for a quick getaway if necessary. You don’t want to end up boxed into your driveway.
- Get to know your neighbours. Start or join a Neighbourhood Watch WhatsApp group. Report any suspicious people or vehicles in your area.
- When pulling into your driveway – if you’re alone, switch the car off and leave the key in the ignition. Open the gate, pull your car in and close it immediately. If you have children in the car, turn the car off and take the key with you. If the worst were to happen, you need the key as a negotiating tool. The criminals want your vehicle. You want your children.
- Always keep your vehicle doors locked and your windows shut. Keep valuables out of sight to prevent a smash-and-grab. Don’t respond to people indicating that there is something wrong with your vehicle. This is also a favourite tactic of traffic light hawkers to get you to roll your window down. Drive to a petrol station or safe place to get out and check.
How To Survive A Hijacking
- We wish we could tell you that the best defence is offence. To fight tooth and nail. Go for the eyes, go for the throat, go for the groin. While this may be your only option for survival in the absolute worst cases, it is generally better to remain calm. The first golden rule – do not antagonize the hijackers.
- Show them that you’re not a threat to them. Don’t turn your car off. Use your left hand to unclip the safety belt. Avoid eye-contact with them. Keep your hands in plain sight. Do not go for your handbag or your cubbyhole. Your car, and all the possessions in it, is worth much less than your life. Cooperate with them, within reason.
- If possible, never turn your back on them. This would be to expose your vital organs.
- Stay calm. If you are hijacked while your children are in the car, climb out of the vehicle slowly and tell the hijackers that you need to take your children out. A single child should always be seated behind the driver. If you have two children, the eldest child should be seated behind the driver and the younger child to the left. Move to the back door directly behind the driver’s door. Place one foot firmly in the car, on the floor behind the driver’s seat. As you lean across to retrieve the youngest child, instruct the eldest child to put their arms around your neck. That way you can remove both children from the car at once.
- Try to identify any useful information about the hijackers without staring at them. The make, model, colour or licence plate number of their car. Any distinguishable features. This will help you later on, when you go to the police.
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