Source: Business Insider SA
Though Gauteng remains the country’s hijacking capital, more hijackings are now taking place in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
Gauteng has been the epicentre of vehicle crimes since Tracker started tracking hijacking and theft data 25 years ago. During the period, the province’s incidents accounted for 64% of South Africa’s total vehicle crimes.
However, in the past three years, Gauteng has had fewer incidents, with its average dropping to 56%, according to data released by vehicle tracking company Tracker on Tuesday shows.
More car crimes are now occurring in provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, whose average increased to 19% from 16%, and the Western Cape, which has risen to 9% from 6%.
Cars are also increasingly more likely to be hijacked than stolen, Tracker said.
This is due to “opportunistic tactics,” Duma Ngcobo, Tracker’s chief operating officer, said, citing a noticeable increase in vehicles such as those ferrying fast-moving consumable goods being targeted for their loads.
In 2021 vehicle crime activities or hijackings rose to 54%, while car theft decreased to 46%, from 50% previously, higher than in 1999, when it had increased to 52%, overtaking theft at 48%.
“Drivers carrying large amounts of cash are also being targeted. South Africans should be wary and remain vigilant at all times, especially when returning home from shopping or when goods bought online are delivered to their homes. Hijackings are often violent and there are instances where a hostage is taken,” Ngcobo said.
“Further techniques include criminals impersonating law enforcement officials in order to commit hijackings, a method otherwise known as blue light robberies. Criminals also commit vehicle theft using online selling platforms, where sellers hand over goods on receipt of a fake payment,” Ngcobo said.
“Sometimes, criminals pretend there is something wrong with your vehicle, a method known as flagging down. They also take advantage of drivers stopped on the side of the road or those picking up hitchhikers,” he said.
The data shows that six provinces are more likely to experience hijacking than theft, with the Western Cape being the province with the highest hijacking incidents compared against car theft. Of the vehicle crimes it encounters, 72% are hijackings, and 22% are stolen cars, most taking place in the metropolitan area.
In Mpumalanga 70% of vehicle crimes are hijackings and 30% being car theft; Limpopo also experiences a higher number of hijackings at 62% against car theft at 38%, while the Eastern Cape sees 60% hijackings and 40% stolen cars.
Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have the same split between car theft, 49%, and hijacking at 51%.
According to Statistics South Africa’s recent Victims of Crime (VOC) survey, more than 42 000 vehicles were stolen or hijacked from April 2016 – March 2017.
And while that is a slight decline from previous years, car theft or hijackings are, of course, still rampant in South Africa.
Understandably, people are usually shocked and traumatised after being a victim of a hijacking, and motorists don’t know what the procedure is should their stolen vehicle be located and retrieved by the police. Law For All has put together a guide to help you through the process.
I have just been hijacked – what do I do now?
- If there were other people in the vehicle with you, check if anyone has been hurt or needs medical attention.
- Report the hijacking to the police and get a case number (this will also help for your insurance claim, assuming you are covered). If the vehicle isn’t yours, get the owner to do the above immediately.
- Activate your vehicle’s tracking device, if one has been fitted.
- Your insurance company will send someone to interview you (or the owner) to get more details on what happened, so try and remember as much as you can about the incident.
- As mentioned, this can be a very traumatic experience so it might be helpful to seek some sort of counselling to help you deal with the aftermath.
If the SAPS find your vehicle, it’s important to remember that the process doesn’t just end there. The is a specific procedure that needs to be followed for a successful reinstatement of the stolen vehicle and insurance claims.
According to Law for All’s managing director, Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal, if the hijackers are caught you may have to identify them and, if the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decides to prosecute, be a witness in court.
Nagtegaal says: “This won’t cost a cent, as the Prosecutor is there to assist. Of course, victims can get legal advice from their own lawyer as well, but the lawyer won’t institute legal proceedings”.
Have you ever had your car recovered after you have been hijacked or it has been stolen? Email us and share your stories with us.
What do I do after my vehicle has been recovered?
- The investigating officer in charge of the case will inform you if your car has been retrieved and you will have to go and identify it at the impound facility.
- Once you have positively identified the vehicle, you will have to inform your insurance provider that the car has been found.
- After the investigation has been finalised, the insurer will organise for the car to be taken to the garage/panel beater to get a quote.
- The insurance assessor will compile a report once the repairs quote has been issued.
- Once all the damage to the vehicle has been fixed, you will have to take the vehicle to get police clearance.
- You will have to obtain a printed Request for Police Clearance from a Motor Vehicle Registration office to verify the car’s record.
- The vehicle will officially be deregistered at the license department.
Read our full guide to obtaining a police clearance certificate after your stolen car has been recovered.
Tips for avoiding a hijacking
- About 1-2kms from your house, be extra vigilant; turn off the radio and take in your surroundings.
- As you get closer to your driveway, double check if there are any loiterers or suspicious vehicles hanging around the street.
- If you suspect that you have been followed as you approach your driveway, do not turn into your house- wait and see if they stop following you or alert the authorities.
- If your pets do not greet you in your driveway, consider this a warning sign. The perpetrators may have entered your premises and overpowered the animals.
- Call someone who is likely to be at your house and ask them to double check if the driveway is safe and if they can meet you in the driveway.
- Be extra vigilant in parking lots when leaving the office.
- Lastly, it always better to be safe than sorry, so take the extra time to be vigilant and extremely cautious while driving, and make sure that you have vehicle insurance and a tracker in place to help lessen the impact of a hijacking.
Vehicle tracking company Ctrack has released it hijacking and crime statistics, detailing the hijacking hotspots across South Africa’s biggest cities, and the time of day you’re most vulnerable.
The report is based on data and analytics collected by Ctrack from January through December 2016.
Ctrack found that car and truck hijacking is most common in South Africa’s most populated province, Gauteng, followed by other built up provinces such as KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape.
The majority of hijackings were likely to occur between 18:00 and 23:59 in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, and between 00:00 and 05:59 in the Western Cape. You are also more likely to be hijacked on a Tuesday.
According to the latest crime statistics report released by the SAPS in September 2016, cases of hijacking have increased significantly across the country.
The most recent crime stats revealed that there were over 14,600 reported car hijackings between 2015 and 2016, up 14.3% from 12,770 cases in the prior period.
Statistically, this shows that 40 cars are hijacked every day in South Africa (versus 35 in 2015), or roughly one car every 36 minutes.