- Updated September 2021 -
This week parents were once again confronted with the ugly reality of crime in South Africa, when a Cape Town mom was, thankfully, reunited with her baby boy after hijackers sped off with him in her car.
Earlier this year another Cape Town mother desperately tried to save her three children after her car was stolen at a Cape Town mall, with harrowing video footage showing her hanging on to the door as the hijacker drove way with her children.
While this story had a happy ending in that the children were recovered safely, the idea that this could happen again has kept parents up at night. Are their fears valid?
According to the crime statistics for Q1 2021/2022 there has been a steep increase in carjacking. Aggravated robberies such as carjacking increased by 92.2% compared to the previous corresponding period. This figure would have increased by 13.1% if compared to the same period in 2019/2020. It is unclear how many of these carjackings involved children.
Melinda Brussow of the National Hijack Prevention Agency (NHPA) explains that only the carjacking is recorded, and not who was in the vehicle at the time, and according to Barbara Holtmann from Arrive Alive, the main objective in a carjacking is to steal a car and property - not to cause bodily harm.
A crime of opportunity
Carjackings are apparently a crime of opportunity and rarely carefully planned or executed.
In most cases, the perpetrators are thieves and robbers, and not murderers. But this is small consolation for someone who lost a loved one during a carjacking.
Even more revealing is the claim that only 5% of attempted or successful carjackings ends in serious injury or death.
But, Arrive Alive's Holtmann reassures us that if things go smoothly, the risk of injury to you or your children is a lot less than it seems.
We are tempted to think that if we behave one way rather than another, it will keep us and our families safe. Unfortunately that is not always the case. The complications during a carjacking are about the behaviour of the criminals, and rarely because of something you did.
Children draw too much attention
That being said, it is important to note that there are exceptions. It known that you are more likely to be shot if you pull out a gun, and more likely to be injured if you put up a fight.
Brussow of the NHPA says that it is best to comply with the carjackers demands. This is not the time to fight back – nobody is faster than a bullet. We can do all that we can to prevent being carjacked, but when it happens to you, you have to surrender. In general terms, the calmer and more cooperative you are, the better for all.
She says that you must remember that carjackers do not want your baby or child to be in the vehicle. Abducting a child draws too much attention.
Every policeman, radio station and helicopter in the vicinity will be alerted to look out for them. In most cases where children were abducted, it was because the hijackers were interrupted or someone was approaching them and they had to get away fast.
The good news is that usually they drop off the child unharmed shortly after the incident.
For more information on what to do if you find yourself in this position, read: What to do if your family is in a hijack situation
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