The number of hijackings in South Africa is expected to ramp up from February 2024, and a new trend has emerged that gives the hijackers more time to find tracking devices and delays the reporting of the crime.
According to Fidelity Services Group CEO Wahl Bartmann, the group is anticipating a rise in reported hijackings in the coming months as available data points to cases typically spiking around February and March.
Bartmann warned that a new trend with hijacking cases is that criminals are also kidnapping victims to force them to reveal the location of tracking devices and to delay the reporting of the crimes so they can get away.
Several cases also noted an increase in kidnappings with the aim of getting cash from the victim as well as stealing their vehicle.
The hijackers drive around for hours, forcing the victim to go and draw as much money as they possibly can, Bartmann said.
The Fidelity head advised the public to always be aware of their surroundings and look out for any vehicles that may be following them.
“Most hijackings target victims at, or close to, their residences and places of work,” said Bartmann.
“If (drivers) suspect they are being followed, they should drive to the closest police station immediately or at least to a busy centre where other people are around.
“Do not offer any resistance during a hijacking. Remember that perpetrators are always armed and would not hesitate to fire when confronted.
“Additional perpetrators may stand out of view and fire should you fight back,” he added.
Insurance companies have also warned of incidents happening at or close to home. MiWay Insurance Executive Head Youlon Naidoo recently noted that an estimated 71% of car hijackings occur in residential driveways.
Insurers like Santam have tried to counteract criminal behaviour by encouraging motorists to take proactive measures – such as doubling up on vehicle trackers, discussing tech-linked weaknesses with vehicle manufacturers, and promoting Faraday pouches to prevent the cloning of keyless access signals.
However, due to the compounding efforts to combat hijackings in the country, the hijackers themselves are coming up with ways to counteract these measures, Bartmann said – hence the rise in kidnappings.
According to Fidelity, vehicles under the Toyota, VW, Ford, and Nissan brands continue to be common targets among criminals, and the specific models include:
- Toyota Hilux, Fortuner, Rave 4 and Corollas
- Ford Ranger (both double and single cabs).
- VW Polos
- Nissan NP200s
In addition to these cars, utility vehicles and cargo trucks are also in high demand, which includes the increasing popularity of the Hyundai H100.
Statista confirmed this data, showing that Toyota was the most frequently hijacked car brand in South Africa in 2023. Approximately 32% of all reported car hijackings involved a Toyota vehicle, while Volkswagen accounted for around 14% of hijacking cases.
It’s worth noting that Toyota and Volkswagen are also the most popular car brands among South African motorists, and, as Bartmann explained, vehicle hijackings in the country are largely a business driven by supply and demand.