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South Africa Grapples with Rising Hijackings and Kidnappings in 2023

South Africa Grapples with Rising Hijackings and Kidnappings in 2023 Latest News

Despite a slight decline in reported hijacking incidents at the onset of 2023, South Africa continues to grapple with this crime. Disturbingly, kidnappings during these incidents are becoming more frequent.

Crime Levels on the Rise

In a recent address, Police Minister Bheki Cele shared the latest crime statistics. The data does not bode well for the nation, indicating an uptick in criminal activities across the board. A particularly concerning statistic is the surge in hijackings. Compared to 2019, there was a 30% increase in 2022, and a 15% rise when juxtaposed with 2021.

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By the close of 2022, a total of 23,025 carjackings had been reported, averaging 63 vehicles daily. A provincial breakdown reveals that Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal (KZN), and the Western Cape bore the brunt of these incidents. Specifically, Gauteng saw 11,626 carjackings, translating to roughly 31.9 vehicles daily. KZN followed with 3,757 reported cases, or about 10.3 vehicles daily, and the Western Cape had 3,052 incidents, averaging 8.4 cars daily.

A Glimmer of Hope?

Wahl Bartmann, the CEO of Fidelity services group, offered a slightly optimistic perspective. Within the group’s operational areas, hijacking incidents showed a minor decline during the first quarter of 2023. However, he was quick to caution that the situation remains dire. Two hijacking methods, driveway hijackings and fake blue-light police stops, are still favoured by criminals, especially in truck hijackings.

Bartmann provided some safety advice for motorists. For those suspecting they’re being trailed, he suggests signaling and slowing down several houses before reaching their destination. This tactic might deter potential hijackers. As for the fake police stops, he recommends avoiding certain routes and highways, particularly at night. If pulled over, turning on bright lights and hazard signals can draw attention and possibly deter criminals.

The Kidnapping Concern

An alarming trend is the rise in kidnappings during hijackings. In these instances, drivers are not only robbed of their vehicles but are also taken hostage. Criminals might seek a ransom, force victims to withdraw money, or hold them until a payment is made or bank accounts are emptied.

Most Targeted Vehicles

Fidelity ADT’s recent data indicates that Toyota remains the top target for carjackers, accounting for 31.6% of incidents within the group’s purview. Volkswagen (VW) and Ford follow at 14.1% and 10.4% respectively. Among these, the most sought-after models include:

  • VW Polo (8.6%)
  • Toyota Hilux (6.8%)
  • Toyota Etios (4.8%)
  • Ford Ranger (4.9%)
  • Toyota Fortuner (4.6%)
  • Nissan NP200 (4.2%)

 

Bartmann also highlighted the Toyota Prados and Toyota Landcruisers as favourites among criminals, with the Hilux and Fortuner GD6 models still in high demand. He mentioned, “These high-risk vehicles are primarily destined for neighbouring countries, often hijacked just to be transported across the border.”

Embracing Technology for Safety

Given the persistent threat of hijackings, Bartmann advocates for the adoption of anti-hijacking technology. These systems provide real-time tracking, updating every 2 to 20 seconds, enabling immediate alerts to reduce risks and enhance safety. In case of an emergency, victims can use an SOS feature on the associated app, alerting a monitoring centre. Additionally, he recommends smartphone applications that transform devices into personal safety tools, ensuring assistance is always within reach.

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