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September 29th, 2017 by

A hijacking is a traumatising experience. There are some places in South Africa, for example, where people believe it’s safer to run a red light at night than stop. Hijackers have grown courageous now, though, often operating in broad daylight or in plain view of other people.

It’s not just the car drivers who need to be on the constant lookout – motorcycle hijackings have seen a sharp incline.

Earlier this week, an attempted hijacking went awry for three criminals, armed with a toy gun, when the motorist opened fire on them on Christiaan de Wet road in Johannesburg. He shot one suspect dead on the scene, and a second died on the way to the hospital. The third was believed to be wounded, but managed to escape.

Also in September, a Durban Uber driver managed to get away from his would-be hijackers by crashing his car. The suspects then left him alone and fled the scene. That’s right – they’re hijacking Ubers, too.

You don’t need to search very hard to find these stories. According to a report released by the SAPS in May, a car hijacking in South Africa occurs every 32 minutes.

South Africans need to change the way they view self-defence. Beyond anti-hijacking flamethrowers. We need to learn how to take control, and by doing so, stand a chance of changing the outcome of a dangerous situation.

Increase Your Chances Of Surviving A Hijacking

Miss South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, was the victim of an attempted hijacking earlier this year. In September, she kicked off her Unbreakable campaign with the aim of empowering women in life-threatening situations.

“It was an awful experience,” she said. “But I knew how to handle the situation in the best possible way, because I had done WIP (Woman INPowered) and MasterDrive workshops for women that focused on everything from hijacking and robberies and how to handle these situations.”

Mark Grobbelaar, a 6th dan karate expert, gave up his corporate job to create Woman INPowered. The inspiration behind WIP is Alison Botha, who In December 1994 was abducted outside her home by two men. They raped, stabbed and disembowelled her, slashing her throat and leaving her for dead. Alison survived. Since then she has become a motivational speaker, author and was the subject of the acclaimed documentary film, Alison.

Car Insurance Comparison7 - How To Survive A Hijacking

The Tips

Hijacking has increased by 14.9% since last year. Other reports have come in that most hijackings occur on a Friday – as this is the day drivers are most likely to be relaxed. The violence associated with the crime has also increased. Most hijackings take place right in your driveway or when your car is at a halt by the traffic light. Hijackings are also prevalent when advertising your car for sale – the ‘test drive’ method.

We sourced a number of tips to help you prevent it, and to get through it, should it ever happen to you. These were compiled by safety and self-defence experts, the Automobile Association, Netstar, the National Hijack Prevention Academy and Arrive Alive, to name but a few.

How To Prevent It

  • A few months ago, we gave you SA’s Top Hijacking Hotspots. Should you live in any of these areas – or anywhere really – you need to be alert. Concentrate on your surroundings when paused at a red light, stop street or pulling into your driveway. Check your driveway and street before you leave or enter your premises. Should any unknown pedestrians be lurking close to your gate, pass and go back later.
  • If you have an electric gate, do not pull into your driveway before opening the gate. It’s better to open the gate while your car is still in the road, to allow for a quick getaway if necessary. You don’t want to end up boxed into your driveway.
  • Get to know your neighbours. Start or join a Neighbourhood Watch Whatsapp group. Report any suspicious people or vehicles in your area.
  • When pulling into your driveway – if you’re alone, switch the car off and leave the key in the ignition. Open the gate, pull your car in and close it immediately. If you have children in the car, turn the car off and take the key with you. If the worst were to happen, you need the key as a negotiating tool. The criminals want your vehicle. You want your children.
  • Always keep your vehicle doors locked and your windows shut. Keep valuables out of sight to prevent a smash-and-grab. Don’t respond to people indicating that there is something wrong with your vehicle. This is also a favourite tactic of traffic light hawkers to get you to roll your window down. Drive to a petrol station or safe place to get out and check.

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How To Survive It

  • We wish we could tell you that the best defence is offence. To fight tooth and nail. Go for the eyes, go for the throat, go for the groin. While this may be your only option for survival in the absolute worst cases, it is generally better to remain calm. The first golden rule – do not antagonize the hijackers.
  • Show them that you’re not a threat to them. Don’t turn your car off. Use your left hand to unclip the safety belt. Avoid eye-contact with them. Keep your hands in plain sight. Do not go for your handbag or your cubbyhole. Your car, and all the possessions in it, is worth much less than your life. Cooperate with them, within reason.
  • If possible, never turn your back on them. This would be to expose your vital organs.
  • Stay calm. If you are hijacked while your children are in the car, climb out of the vehicle slowly and tell the hijackers that you need to take your children out. A single child should always be seated behind the driver. If you have two children, the eldest child should be seated behind the driver and the younger child to the left. Move to the back door directly behind the driver’s door. Place one foot firmly in the car, on the floor behind the driver’s seat. As you lean across to retrieve the youngest child, instruct the eldest child to put their arms around your neck. That way you can remove both children from the car at once.
  • Try to identify any useful information about the hijackers without staring at them. The make, model, colour or licence plate number of their car. Any distinguishable features. This will help you later on, when you go to the police.

See who the best and worst insurance companies are in South Africa here

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  • Ashley Crookes

    I think the guy shooting the hijackers sounds like the best option. The US keeps complaining about gun laws, well, look at SA, we have such strict gun control laws that us LAW ABIDING citizens struggle to even get a permit to own and operate one, and the government makes it very difficult to hold onto, yet the criminals will always do what they like. SAPS is completely useless and incompetent – it’s time we all started taking the law into our own hands. Shoot them first, ask questions later.