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There is no better place in the world to have a holiday than South Africa. For independent information, advice and facts about going on holiday to South Africa visit www.southafricaholiday.org.uk

South Africa Holiday: Avoid being hijacked

These safety tips, taken from the "Arrive Alive" campaign, will help you avoid being hijacked as well as survive a hijacking. We recommend you print this page or the leaflet. Remember - simple measures save lives.

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Actions whilst driving your car

NEVER, EVER pick up hitchhikers or strangers.
Lock your doors and close your windows.
Avoid driving alone if possible.
Do not have bags or briefcases visible in the car, use the boot.
Cell (mobile) phones should not be visible.
Avoid driving through high crime or unfamiliar areas, or at night when the roads are quiet.
Know your destination and directions to it; be alert if you get lost.
Make a mental note of any Police Stations in the vicinity.
When approaching a red robot (traffic light), particularly at night, slow down so that you only reach it when it turns green.
When stopping behind another vehicle, leave half a car length in front of your car to make an emergency escape if necessary.
Do not take anything from people standing at robots (traffic lights).
Make sure you are not followed. If you suspect you are being followed, drive to the nearest Police Station or any busy public area.
Hijackers may stage a minor accident, e.g. if your car is bumped from behind and you do not feel comfortable with the individual involved in the situation, indicate that he/she must follow you and drive to the nearest Police Station or any busy public area for help.
If you encounter obstacles in the road, e.g. rocks, tyres, do not get out of your car to remove them. Reverse and drive away in the opposite direction.
Cell (mobile) phones should be carried on the body. Perpetrators will not allow you to remove your cell phone and valuables from the vehicle during an attack, and you will need it later to get help.

Actions whilst parking your car

Check your rear-view mirror to ensure you are not being followed.
When exiting your vehicle, be cautious and aware of surrounding obstructions and shrubbery that may be concealing a hijacker.
Never sit in your parked vehicle without being conscious of your surroundings.
Do not stop to eat or rest on deserted roads. Sleeping in a stationary vehicle is particularly dangerous.
Do not leave your vehicle unattended at a filling station.
When returning to your parked car, have your key ready, but not visible, so you can enter the car quickly.
If a suspicious person is near your unoccupied vehicle, do not approach the vehicle. Walk to the nearest public area and ask for assistance.
Remember the direction from which they came and fled, as well as the time and place the incident happened.
Remember to make mental and written notes immediately after the incident to ensure accurate and detailed information for the Police investigation.

Actions at your residence

When you are 2km from your residence be extra alert. Switch off the car radio and concentrate on your surroundings.
Be aware of unknown pedestrians close to your residential address. If you are suspicious do not turn into your driveway � pass and come back later.
If at any time you have to open the gate yourself, switch off the engine, leave the key in the ignition and close the door. Then open the gate.
If you have small children in the car, take the key with you (this is the only exception). You may need the key as a �negotiating tool� - the perpetrators want your car and you want your children.
If your children are older they should leave the car with you when opening the gate so that you are all separated from the car should a hijack occur.
Stop your car just on the inside of the security gate and select reverse so the reversing lights show whilst waiting for the gate to close. This creates confusion and may buy you a few seconds for the gate to close completely behind you.
Check your driveway and street before you leave or enter your residence.

Related pages

Driving Overview
Road safety
Road junctions (robots; stop streets)
Hijacking leaflet (PDF)

Actions in other situations

If approached by a stranger while in your vehicle, drive off if possible or use your horn to attract attention.
If anyone in a high-risk area arouses your suspicions, treat it as hostile and take appropriate action, e.g. when approaching a red robot (traffic light), slow down, check left and right for oncoming traffic and if clear, drive through the intersection. A fine will be preferable to an attack. Treat stop streets in the same way. Always report these incidents to the South African police service (SAPS). The onus will be on you to prove, possibly in a court of law, that you had justifiable reason to act the way you did.
Should a suspicious vehicle in fact be a (unmarked) South African police service (SAPS) vehicle, the Police must identify themselves by:
  • Use of a blue light, loudspeaker or any other police equipment.
  • The Police must go all out in order to let the public know who they are.
  • The flash of a badge through the window whilst driving is not enough.
If you are still not sure if it is a police vehicle, consider the following actions:
  • Switch on your hazard warning lights.
  • Put your hand out the window (if possible), indicating that they should follow you. Your intention must be very clear and understandable.
  • Drive to the nearest Police Station, or when in doubt, the nearest busy public area.
  • Try not to exceed the speed limit or you may send out the message that you are in fact the criminal (e.g. in a stolen vehicle, transporting stolen goods, under the influence of alcohol).


Actions if confronted by a hijacker

If escape is not possible, escape is not possible, immediately drop to the ground, remain still and obey the orders of the leader
DO EXACTLY AS TOLD BY THE HIJACKERS!
Do not lose your temper, threaten or challenge the hijacker.
Do not resist, especially if the hijacker has a weapon.
Surrender your vehicle and move away.
Try to put as much distance between yourself and the hijacker as speedily as possible.
Do not reach for your purse or valuables. Leave everything in the vehicle.
Try to remain calm at all times and do not show signs of aggression.
Be compliant to all demands set by the perpetrator.
Do not make eye contact with the hijacker. He may perceive this behaviour as a threat and retaliate aggressively.
Keep your hands still and visible to the hijacker, so as to give him assurance of your passive content.
Do not speak too fast (if you are able to talk) and do not make sudden movements.
As soon as possible, phone the SA Police Service on 08600 10111 (also dial 112 on any cell (mobile) phone).

Information to remember

Always have your identity document and driver�s license in your possession as well as a pen and notebook to take necessary notes.
Promptly report any incident to the police (SAPS). Make sure you have the vehicle details: model, colour and vehicle registration number.
Describe the hijacker as accurately as possible. When observing a hijacker, take note of his/her head and face � the shape of the eyes, mouth, nose and ears. Take note of possible irregularities. Look at the hair, skin colour, complexion and possible scars or tattoos. Observe the build, gender, body movement, clothing and any conversation that may take place.
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