Halt the Hijacking Mayhem
Statistics of hijackings in South Africa, as we know, are through the roof at the moment with unsuspecting motorists being traumatised on a daily basis. “Although there is no fool proof plan to avoid ever being hijacked, there are certainly steps and measures that can be taken to limit the chances of it happening to you,” says the Automobile Association (AA).
Firstly, it is imperative that you are constantly alert to the possibility that you could be the next victim. The AA recommends that you take the following precautionary and protective measures:
- Be familiar with your environment and keep alert to anything around you that is out of the ordinary. Taking the same route every day often means that we stop noticing the things around us, and it’s often the small things that alert us to a bigger problem and could help us avoid a hijacking. If you see something out of place, it’s worth noting – alert your neighbourhood watch or the police if you think it’s necessary.
- Often, hijackers will track people for days before making their move, to find out where you’re most vulnerable. Varying your route to avoid habitual patterns that can be easily followed is a good way of throwing potential attackers off.
- Most cars lock automatically, but it’s worth making double sure yours is locked, as it puts another barrier between you and the hijacker.
- It’s also a good idea to stop a few metres behind the car in front of you to leave some space for a quick getaway if necessary.
- If your doors are locked, the only other option is for a hijacker to try and break your windows. Leaving your passenger window open just a fraction may prevent smash and grab incidents as it makes the glass more flexible, allowing the window to absorb the sudden impact of someone trying to break it.
- When you’re walking to your car, be it on the street or in a car park, have your key ready, but not visible, as loitering will leave a gap for hijackers.
- Finally, if you can help it, avoid driving at night and in unfamiliar or high crime areas to reduce your risk of being involved in a hijacking – and if you absolutely have to, then make sure you’re extra vigilant – remember, rather be safe than sorry!
If you are the victim of a hijacking, it’s important to make sure you don’t make any sudden moves. Remember that most hijackers are on edge so remaining calm is key. Keep your hands visible and move slowly.
Remember that your personal safety takes precedence over valuables. If you have a child in the car, make this clear to your attackers. As calmly as possible, ask if you can fetch your child while making it clear that there is no threat from the child. Most importantly, listen carefully to the demands of the hijackers and do not resist them.
“After a hijacking, there is a greater chance the hijackers will be caught while on the move,” says the AA. “So try to concentrate on the things that could help identify your hijackers at a later stage without blatantly staring at them, and report to the police as soon as possible following the incident.”
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1126