South Africa’s latest crime statistics show yet another increase in hijackings across the country in recent months.
The data, which was presented by national police commissioner Khehla Sitole and his officials in parliament in November, covers the period between July and September 2021.
A total of 4,973 hijackings were reported across the country over the period – a 3.5% increase from the 4,803 hijackings reported over the same period last year.
As the country enters the time of year where crime tends to increase, drivers need to increase their awareness levels as well, says Eugene Herbert, chief executive of MasterDrive.
“The best way to protect yourself from a carjacking is to be aware of your surroundings and do whatever you can to prevent it from happening altogether.”
Herbert said motorists should follow these important rules to ensure this as far as is possible:
- Keep an eye on the car behind you, if they have followed you for a while, particularly if you are coming home from shopping centres or places like the airport, do not turn into your driveway. Rather drive to a place of safety such as a petrol station and get assistance there.
- Most armed response companies offer services where they see you into your house when you arrive home, especially at night. Make use of these whenever necessary.
- Do not drive straight into your driveway but rather wait for the gates to open while parallel to your driveway.
- At intersections do not look at your phone and be aware of the people there that could pose a threat to you.
- At shopping malls reverse park into a space, preferably against a wall, to prevent someone catching you unaware from behind and to allow you to exit the parking quickly.
- If you feel uncomfortable with the presence of someone in the parking lot, ask a security guard to walk you to your car.
- Ultimately, rather be safe than sorry: do an extra circle around the block or ask someone for assistance rather than regret it.
While it is essential to be aware of your surroundings to protect yourself as far as possible, it is also important to understand it is not always preventable, Herbert said.
“For this, drivers are recommended to learn what they should do to increase their chances to safely remove themselves from that situation. While MasterDrive cannot advise drivers what to do should they be kidnapped, there are certain precautions that can help should the worst happen.
This includes making sure that your loved ones always know where you are and what time to expect you home, he said.
“Install apps on your phone that friends and family can use to track your location should you not arrive on time. Investigate high-risk vehicles and areas. This is not to say you shouldn’t drive in those areas or with those cars, knowledge of this can help you make the best decisions for your safety.”