Recently, there has been a spike in vehicle hijackings in Durban. Along with this spike there has been an increase in the number of people who are kidnapped when their vehicles are hijacked. The reasons for this are varied. Sometimes the hijackers believe the owners know where their tracking unit is or it is in order to get the victim to withdraw money from their bank account.
In the wake of these events, the importance of paying attention to your surroundings to potentially avoid a hijacking all together, is essential. The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, explains: “Forming simple habits such as not turning into your driveway when there is a vehicle behind you, pulling up parallel to your gate as it opens or checking to see if you have been followed from a shopping mall, can all save you from the trauma of being hijacked.
“Other techniques include not stopping completely at intersections but rather anticipate light changes and approach traffic lights slowly. Be aware of your surroundings: pay extra attention in areas where hijacking is common, recognise the people standing at intersections on your route so that you know when there is someone new, scan the areas around your gate before driving through.”
Unfortunately, even despite your best efforts, there is still a high chance you may find yourself in this frightening position. “If you do, you need to know what to do to remove yourself from it safely. Learn how to exit the vehicle quickly and safely so the interaction ends as quickly as possible. Practice your plan of action on a regular basis so that if the worst happens, your reaction is second nature.
“At MasterDrive events, motorists often ask whether to comply or refuse when hijackers want you to go with them. There is no simple answer to this. In this instance, you need to use your instinct to decide your course of action. If there is no way to safely escape we, however, strongly caution against physically engaging with hijackers or infuriating them. You don’t know what state of mind hijackers are in or if their guns are real or not.”
We want to equip South Africans with knowledge on how to react in a hijacking, to help them escape safely. “While we can’t predict exactly how it will play out, we believe knowledge will empower your decisions,” says Herbert.
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