How to Stay Safe During a Hijacking in South Africa

When you hit the road in South Africa this December, a crucial thought lingers—the risk of hijacking. It’s an unfortunate reality in our country. Hijackings are not just numbers but real threats that loom over every journey, especially holiday travels. In this article, we delve into practical and effective strategies to stay safe during a hijacking, so you can keep yourself and your loved ones safer this festive season.

Nobody wants to become a hijacking victim but considering that crime statistics show an increase in hijackings, particularly over the festive season, it’s smart to prepare. It’s even more important to take precautions and understand the best ways to stay safe if you are traveling through high-risk areas. 

Regularly updating your knowledge about hijacking hotspots and tactics, including those used in residential areas, can significantly bolster your preparedness. Additionally, adopting defensive driving techniques and crime prevention strategies can also significantly reduce your risk. Let’s look at the best ways to proceed according to crime experts.

Source: TimesLive Video

 

Key Defensive Methods & Prevention Strategies

 

  • Stay Alert. Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when entering or exiting your vehicle.
  • Stay Secure. Keep doors locked and windows up, particularly at traffic lights and intersections.
  • Avoid Distractions. Using your phone at the robot, for example, can make you an easy target.
  • Stay Observant. Employ the ‘high alert’ approach about 2km from your destination, especially when nearing home or familiar places, to spot potential surveillance or tailing.
  • Take defensive driving courses. Consider practicing scenario-based training exercises to better prepare yourself mentally and physically for potential hijacking situations. You can use evasive driving techniques learned in defensive driving courses, such as varying your speed and being cautious at intersections, to reduce hijacking risks.
  • Stay Connected. Keep emergency numbers at hand, on your person. It’s important to be able to contact emergency help when the need arises.
  • Avoid Breakdowns. Ensure your vehicle is always well-maintained to avoid breakdowns that make you more vulnerable to hijacking.
  • Install Added Security. To enhance your safety, consider installing advanced security features in your vehicle, such as immobilizers and tracking devices, which can act as effective deterrents against hijackings.

Source: News24

 

Key Hijacking Hotspots in South Africa (2023)

The threat of vehicle hijacking is not evenly distributed across South Africa, with certain areas experiencing higher rates of these crimes. In urban hubs like Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban, hijackings are not just confined to secluded areas but can occur even in busy streets and residential neighbourhoods. Areas known for hijacking incidents, such as major intersections, garages and isolated parking lots, require increased vigilance. 

Gauteng Region Hotspots

  • Johannesburg: Key areas include Pretoria Road, CR Swart; Elgin Road and Pretoria Road; Linksfield Road, N3; Booysens Road, M1; Nelson Mandela Bridge, and several others.
  • Midrand and Surrounding Areas: Notable hotspots are Midrand, Clayville, Grayston, Rivonia, 11th Street, Empire Road, Jan Smuts Avenue, and William Nicol Drive.
  • Tshwane / Pretoria and Surrounds: Watch out for areas like Es’kia Mphahlele Drive, Paul Kruger Street, Burnett Street, Delfi Avenue and Garsfontein Road, and several traffic light intersections known for hijackings.

Cape Town Region Hotspots

  • Key Areas: These include Military Road and Prince George Drive; Alice Street and Voortrekker Road; Station Road; Klipfontein Road, and others in the Cape Town area.

Durban Region Hotspots:

  • Key Locations: These include AN Centre, Mariannhill; Justice Street, Chatsworth; Umlazi; Police Station Road, Isipingo; Deodar Avenue, Umbilo, and others in and around Durban.

Source: eNCA

Current Hijacking Trends (2023)

African motorists can avoid the trickery of thieves and hijackers by being more aware of their strategies. Here are a few to keep an eye out for.

  • The Bump and Rob. In this method, hijackers bump your car from behind to get you to stop, a method often used in urban areas.
  • The Follow Home. In the ‘follow-home’ method, hijackers trail victims from public places to their residences and try to commit driveway hijackings.
  • The Blue Light. The blue light tactic can be very deceptive, since the criminals impersonate traffic police, flagging you down, and then robbing you once you’ve stopped. 
  • The Roadblock Setup. This scenario is similar. Hijackers set up a fake roadblock, appearing as law enforcement or road maintenance crews. Once you stop, they execute the hijacking.
  • The Good Samaritan. This tactic involves the hijackers creating a scenario where they appear to be assisting you with a problem (like a flat tire) that they’ve secretly caused earlier. While you’re distracted, they hijack your car.
  • The Distraction Technique. In this method, something is thrown onto your windshield (like an egg or a liquid) or into the road to force you to stop and get out to clean it or remove it, at which point hijackers make their move.
  • The High-Tech Approach. Thieves use signal jamming devices to prevent you from locking your car remotely, then wait until you’re out of sight to hijack or steal the vehicle.
  • The Forced Stop. Hijackers use another vehicle to force you off the road or to stop, often by aggressively braking in front of you, causing a minor accident or obstruction.
  • The Parking Lot or Garage Ambush. Hijackers target victims in parking lots or those refilling fuel at a garage, waiting for a moment when you’re distracted, like checking your phone, loading groceries or buckling in a child.
  • The Fake Accident Claim. Criminals may stage or claim an accident involving your vehicle, encouraging you to pull over to resolve the issue, then hijacking your car when you’re vulnerable.
  • The Pretend Pedestrian. Hijackers pose as pedestrians or cyclists who suddenly dart in front of your vehicle, forcing you to stop, and then they or their accomplices hijack your car.
  • The Box In. Hijackers block your escape with a vehicle tailing you, a vehicle that stops abruptly in front of you, and vehicles that come alongside yours, effectively boxing you in so that there is no escape.

Hijacking Survival Tips: Dos and Don’ts During a Hijacking

Your actions on the road can significantly impact your safety. In the event of a hijacking, remember that your life is more valuable than your car; focus on staying safe rather than protecting your property. If you find yourself in a hijacking situation, remember these critical dos and don’ts.

 

  • Do: If forced to exit the vehicle, use a protective posture by covering your head with your arms and exiting sideways to minimise exposure to potential harm.
  • Do: Avoid direct confrontation or aggressive body language, as this can escalate the situation.
  • Do: Remain calm and try not to show fear.
  • Do: Comply with the hijacker’s demands.
  • Do: Make slow, deliberate movements and inform the hijacker of every move you make.
  • Do: Use your vehicle’s horn to attract attention if you feel threatened but are still moving.
  • Do: Keep a mobile phone charger in your car to ensure you can call for help after escaping.
  • Do: Practice mindfulness and breathing techniques to help maintain calm in high-stress situations.

 

  • Don’t: Make sudden movements that may startle the hijacker.
  • Don’t: Attempt to negotiate or reason with the hijacker.
  • Don’t: Make direct eye contact with the hijacker, as this can be perceived as a challenge.
  • Don’t: Resist if the hijacker has a weapon; your life is more valuable than your vehicle.
  • Don’t: Try to hide valuable items in the car; this may provoke a more violent response if discovered.
  • Don’t: Return to your vehicle if you’ve managed to escape and it’s still in the possession of the hijacker.

 

Post-Hijacking Protocol

After a hijacking, it’s vital to act quickly. 

  • First, get to safety as soon as possible. If you are far from urban areas or without a mobile phone, this is the top priority, and caution is important when seeking help from strangers. If you have a mobile phone and a tracker or insurance with emergency assistance benefits, you can call them for immediate help.
  • If it was a violent crime and people have been hurt, seeking immediate medical care is vital.  In such cases, your medical aid or tracker emergency service can be contacted, or services such as Netcare 911, for medical assistance.
  • If you have a tracker installed, you can also call the company so that they can send in a recovery team to get back your vehicle. If not, you can consider incorporating vehicle tracking technology as part of a comprehensive security strategy, not only for recovery post-theft but also for proactive monitoring of your vehicle’s movements. 
  • Then you should report the incident to the police within 24 hours. They will open a case file and give you a case number, which you can use in your insurance claim.
  • Next, call your car insurance provider to make a claim for vehicle theft. 
  • After a hijacking, it’s also important to seek counselling if needed, as such experiences can be traumatic and have lasting psychological effects. 

 

How Can Vehicle Tracking Enhance Your Safety?

In the fight against vehicle hijacking, technology is a powerful ally. Vehicle tracking systems not only assist in the recovery of a hijacked vehicle but also act as a deterrent to potential hijackers. Before selecting a tracking system, assess whether it offers advanced features like remote vehicle disabling, which can be invaluable in a hijacking scenario. Remember, vehicle tracking systems should be part of a layered approach to security, complemented by physical measures and personal awareness for optimal protection against hijacking.

Key Benefits of Vehicle Tracking

  • Quick location and recovery of stolen vehicles.
  • Real-time monitoring of your vehicle’s whereabouts.
  • Enhanced security features like geo-fencing and alarm alerts.

 

Choosing the Right Vehicle Tracking System

When selecting a vehicle tracking system, consider:

  • The reputation and reliability of the tracking company.
  • The range of features offered, including real-time tracking and recovery services.
  • Compatibility with your vehicle and lifestyle needs.

 

Stay Informed and Protected with TrackMyWheels

At TrackMyWheels, we understand the importance of safety and security on South African roads. We offer you a connection to top-tier vehicle tracking services, ensuring you’re equipped with the best tools to prevent hijackings and recover your vehicle if the worst happens.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Fill in the form on this page and let us connect you with the ideal vehicle tracking solution. With TrackMyWheels, you’re investing in peace of mind and safety for you and your loved ones in the easiest, most reliable, and most affordable way possible.