Be safe on the road: Five things you can do to survive a hijacking
Andile Sicetsha

There are many prized assets criminals are always on the prowl for, but none more valuable and easily accessible than your vehicle. Consequently, hijacking is one of the most common crimes in a country as volatile as South Africa.

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We, regular law-abiding folks, are not exposed to the raging underworld that exists in our society. Its mere existence is the basic reason why our lives are constantly threatened.

It is wholly unfair that we have to live in a state of fear when in South Africa, a vehicle is hijacked every 32 minutes — but, such is life. It is an eco-system that is — in a way — necessary for the continuation of life,

Criminals need access to our assets to attract illicit income. The law is there to prevent this and/or to protect our livelihoods from these unwanted encounters, and well — insurance companies rely on our trauma to increase our premiums.

It’s a dog-eat-dog reality that comes in the form of a pill that is hard to swallow.

Five things to do when you are being hijacked

This is why we have drafted these anti-hijacking tips. We can’t guarantee that you will not encounter carjackers in your life. However, we can educate you — thanks to Puma Energy’s Road Safety Ambassador Phillip Kekana –on the things you can do to survive a hijacking.

It is important to remember this simple truth: carjackers don’t — in normal cases — want to harm you. The prized possession which will bring them income is your vehicle.

We hate to put it so bluntly but in South Africa, this is a daunting reality for every motorist that braves the outdoors.

So, without further ado, here are five things you can do to survive a hijacking:

  1. Remain calm

This is possibly the hardest thing to do but it is the difference between life and death in threatening situations. When we encounter danger, your mind automatically triggers a physiological reaction known as fight-or-flight response. It is in this state that we act without thinking.

There are many ways to bring yourself to the ‘present’. However, in this situation, the simple thing to do is to stare straight ahead, try your hardest to make no noise and allow the carjackers to assume total control of the situation. The ultimate aim is to stay alive.

  1. DO NOT make eye contact

As hard as it may be, it is imperative that you don’t look into the eyes of the carjackers. Believe it or not, in that heightened state, they are just as nerve-wracked as you are. Staring at them may give them the impression that you are challenging their authority. Even worse, it gives them a reason to eliminate you as an eyewitness who can assist authorities in identifying them.

  1. Hand over whatever they ask for

Carjackers take all this risk to get their grimy hands on your vehicle. Thus, it’s important to understand that in this instance, the value of your life, compared to your vehicle, has depreciated drastically. To escape the situation as quickly as possible, hand over only that which they have asked for, nothing more, nothing less.

  1. DO NOT say a word

Screaming or shouting in defence of your belongings will only result in your harm. That’s just a basic truth. Unfair? Totally. Necessary? Definitely not. So, as difficult as it is, it’s imperative that you remain ‘present’ in the ordeal and try your best to NOT SAY A WORD.

Get out of the vehicle, practice tip #2 and #3, and you will lose your vehicle but walk away with your life.

  1. Wait until the carjackers have left to report the crime

The only time you ought to assume control of your environment is when the carjackers have left with your vehicle. It’s gut-wrenching, yes, but we can’t stress how important it is to save your life.

Be sure to recite your vehicle’s registration number to the police and leave the rest in their hands. More times than not, the vehicle is returned to its owner. If not, insurance companies are there to assist you with replacing the stolen vehicle.

“Your car can always be replaced, but you only have one life. Please remember to remain composed. Once the hijackers are out of sight, you can then report the hijacking to the authorities, and hopefully, the motorists that you signalled took note of the perpetrators to apprehend the criminals,” states Phillip Kekana.

Unfortunately, no amount of vigilance can prevent a hijacking if you were at the wrong place, at the wrong time. However, you can live to see another day with people you hold dear to your heart if you practice these safety tips.