Drivers advised to be alert to hijackers
Arrive Alive offers tips to help motorists avoid being a victim
CRIME and hijackings are a reality of South Africa’s lifestyle. SAPS stats reveal that there were more than 14 600 reported hijackings between 2015 and last year.
This is up from the 12 770 reported between and 2015.
In a bid to help people deal with such situations, Arrive Alive has released a Hijack Prevention Guideline.
The organisation said there were several factors that had led to an increase in hijackings, among them retrenchments and the high unemployment rate. Hijacking was a way to earn easy money because well-established syndicates bought the stolen vehicles from the hijackers.
“The hijacked vehicles that aren’t sold to buyers in South Africa will be smuggled out of the country. These vehicles will be sold in our neighbouring countries or traded in exchange for drugs,” it said.
Arrive Alive said the large number of stolen and unlicensed guns was also a worry. The syndicates supplied most of the firearms to the robbers.
That led to the easy access to firearms, which made hijacking a vehicle one of the easiest crimes to commit and the quickest way to earn a few thousand rand.
An analysis of when hijackings occurred indicated that they took place every day of the week, peaking on Fridays due to motorists being more relaxed and traffic building up earlier.
Weekends showed a lower 14.3% cases 2014 hijacking rate due to syndicates checking their stocks and placing orders for Monday. Another reason was that there were fewer vehicles on the road. The number of hijacking peaked on Tuesdays and dipped on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Times for hijackings fluctuated. Peak times were from 6am to 8am as motorists left home for work and notably higher between 4pm and 8pm as motorists were returning home and often tired, frustrated and distracted.
During a hijacking, motorists were advised to surrender their vehicle and move away, not to get angry or challenge the hijacker and to do as the hijacker ordered, especially if he was armed.
“Don’t reach for your purse or valuables. Leave everything in the vehicle, try to remain calm and do not show signs of aggression.”
If forced to drive with a hijacker, motorists were advised to be observant without making direct eye contact and to also try to memorise as many details as possible.
“It’s important to describe the hijacker as accurately as possible. When observing a hijacker, take note of his head and face.
“Look at the hair, skin colour, complexion and possible scars and tattoos. Also try to observe the build, body movement, clothing and any conversation that may take place,” Arrive Alive said.
“You should also try to remember the direction from which he came and fled, as well as the time and place the incident happened.”
Arrive Alive said it could be helpful to have a survival plan in the back of your mind if you’re taken hostage.
Should the conclusion of the hijacking be by way of armed intervention, and escape isn’t possible, immediately drop to the ground, remain still and obey the orders of the leader.
Although people had a responsibility to protect themselves in a situation where they needed to discharge a firearm for self-protection, there were several factors that needed to be taken into account before doing so. Those included that the attack must be illegal, imminent or commenced and must not have been completed.
“One cannot act on grounds of self-defence for an attack committed an hour earlier,” Arrive Alive noted.
The defensive action taken must be directed against the attacker, proportionate to the circumstances and the value of the objects or property involved. The attacker’s weapon must also be taken into consideration.
Most hijackings take place in the driveways of residential areas, and hijackers prefer areas with accessible escape routes.
Other vulnerable places include intersections or on the side of the road where motorists have stopped.
Motorists were urged to remain vigilant at post offices, malls and petrol stations and in parking lots.
“Hijackers sometimes use a vehicle to force the victim off the road, or they might pose as police or traffic officers.
“Parents dropping off their children at school can also be targets and they must be vigilant as hijackings can occur during this time as well,” Arrive Alive said.