Driv­ers ad­vised to be alert to hi­jack­ers

Ar­rive Alive of­fers tips to help motorists avoid be­ing a vic­tim

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ILANIT CHERNICK

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.

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