Johannesburg - Hijacking is one of the three biggest vehicle crimes in South Africa.
According to statistics released by the South African Police Service in March 2017, a total of 12 743 vehicles were hijacked in South Africa between April and December 2016 – that’s 14.9% more than in the 2015/16 financial year.
Earlier in 2017, Wheels24 reported that more than 1400 vehicles are hijacked each month in South Africa, according to the latest crime statistics by the South African Police Service's (SAPS).
SAPS says that 1416 vehicles are hijacked in South Africa each month – one every 32 minutes. Something that should prompt motorists to think twice before saying: "It won’t happen to me."
Wheels24 reader Sibusiso Mbuli shares his horrifying hijack ordeal:
Have you witnessed or been the victim of a hijacking? Email us
Mbuli says: "It was 6:30am coming back from work. I was tired and only thinking of one thing and that was to sleep after a night shift.
"I stopped at the gate, left the keys in the ignition and jumped out to open the gate. Two men came running towards me . I tried running but unfortunately they were too close already. They carried guns. I was forced to lie on my stomach and beg for my life.
"One of them hit me on the head with his gun, asking if the car has a tracker while the other was insistent that his accomplice had to shoot me since I saw their faces.
"Not believing me that the car had didn't have a tracker, they took me inside the house. They looked like they knew I was alone. Inside the house, they were in no rush. They took their time, beating me and asking if the car has a tracker and showing me bullets. I was lying there begging for my life as one assailant was still insistent on shooting me.
"I possessed a 32" TV and that saved my life as one of them saw it, took it and placed it in the car. That's when one of the hijackers told me it was my lucky day and he locked me inside the house and followed his friend. The pair took off with my car and TV.
"It was the longest 20 minutes of my life. I will probably never forget it. An experience I wish no one else to go through as it is more than traumatizing, it was life-threatening. They took my car, TV, three phones, cards, and my jacket with R3000 inside.
"I managed to escape through a window and jumped a wall to ask my neighbour to assist. We called the police and waited for about an hour. They never came until my neighbour decided we go to the police station. We found them sitting there, thinking they weren't aware of the situation. Turns out they were aware and just said: 'Oh, it's your address, we were about to come'.
"I was hijacked at my home and since then life has never been the same, and will probably never will be the same."
Here are some tips to avoid a hijacking:
1 When approaching your vehicle, keep your key ready but not visible. Unlock your car when you're close by.
2 Check the rear seat before getting into your car.
3 A well-maintained car is less likely to break down and leave you vulnerable.
4 Plan your route and let someone know what your route is and when to expect you at your destination.
5 Always check the rear-view mirror to see if you are being followed.
6 Avoid driving with your windows open and keep the doors locked. Put all valuables out of sight.
7 Avoid distractions while driving such as using a cellphone.
8 If you suspect you are being followed, drive to your nearest police station or a busy public area.
9 When approaching a red traffic light, slow down so that you only reach it when it turns green.
10 Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear of shrubbery.
11 If possible, park in a central, well-lit place, preferably with guards on duty.
12 When stopping behind another vehicle, leave half a vehicle length in front so you can make an emergency escape if necessary.
13 Change your routes and your schedule if possible on a regular basis.
14 Make arriving at your destination safer by calling ahead and asking someone to open and close your gate for you.