Although hijacking isn’t a crime that is unique to South Africa, it’s prevalence in this country has made it an important part of the national discourse. Motor vehicle crime may have decreased during lockdown, but a loosening of restrictions has invited the crooks back onto our streets – and a new ‘trend’ is emerging.
Anti-crime advocate Yusuf Abramjee has made a name for himself in the world of law enforcement. According to the activist, a recent spate of hijackings suggests that these opportunistic thugs are no longer satisfied with just stealing the motor and any personal possessions. But rather, they are now taking victims to ATM machines, adding to their criminal rap sheets.
— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) July 29, 2020
Once the targets have been driven to the nearest cash point, they are being forced to take cash out of their bank and hand it over to the robbers. Although this isn’t strictly a new ‘method’, the trend itself has spiked since June, putting authorities and motorists on high alert. Abramjee told Pretoria Rekord:
“We are observing dramatic increases in hijackings and motor-vehicle theft – criminal syndicates are at work. We’re also seeing more hijackers taking victims as hostages and forcing them to withdraw cash from ATMs before freeing them.”
“This is extremely concerning and it is bound to get worse. Our unemployment rates are soaring due to the effect that the lockdown has had on our economy and criminals are getting desperate.”
HOW TO AVOID GETTING CARJACKED
All vehicle owners are being implored to keep valuables out of sight when parked, ensure that their doors are locked even while in transit, and avoid stopping at the side of the road for long periods. Motorists must stay vigilant at all times, and in the month of July, we’ve seen hijackings reach new extremes:
- Driveway carjackings surged, as criminals adapted to the new “work from home” culture created by lockdown.
- A pair of criminal suspects hijacked a van carrying COVID-19 samples, causing a testing backlog in PE.
- And, just this week, another hijacking attempt at a petrol station was recorded.