Hijackings: how to avoid it, and what to do if it happens to you

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Hijackings: how to avoid it, and what to do if it happens to you

Phoenix Durban

In light of the recent fatal hijacking incidents that have devastated the KwaZulu-Natal community, residents are urged to remain vigilant. Being aware of your surroundings is perhaps one of the best ways to avoid a potential hijacking, according to a local security company.

 “Always make sure you know exactly what is happening around your vehicle so that you can see any danger coming before it is too late,” said the company’s KwaZulu-Natal district manager, Ivan Govender.

Govender recommends following these preventative guidelines:
When parking, reverse park for a quick exit (also at home!)
Always be particularly vigilant when you leave a shopping centre. Hijackers could have spotters working in the centre to be alert for any big purchases or cash withdrawals
Keep your car keys on hand when approaching your vehicle, do not fumble in your handbag as this shows you are off guard
Look out for any suspicious objects near your car before getting in
If you suspect you are being followed, put your indicator on and slow down at least two to three houses prior to your home. If you are being followed, you will force the vehicle behind you to pass and this could cause the criminals to lose interest
Always make sure you can see the back wheels of the car in front of you when you stop in the traffic. This gives you enough room to maneuver and escape
Adjust your speed when approaching a traffic light so that you do not have to come to a complete stop where at all possible
Change your driving route and routines
Always remain vigilant when approaching home. Research shows that most people relax the closer they get to home and this is often when they are most vulnerable
Be on the lookout for people standing near your gate or driveway and ensure that the area around your gate or driveway is well lit
Phone ahead to give a relative or friend your expected time of arrival
Get to know your neighbours and the cars they drive. This will help to identify any uncommon vehicles in your area
 What should you do if you do find yourself face-to-face with a hijacker?
 “The golden rule is to not antagonise the hijackers who are probably more scared than you are. You need to show them you are not a threat. Lift up your arms to show you have no weapon and will surrender. Use your left arm to undo your seatbelt and put your car in neutral,” said Govender.

Do not turn off your car, he says, and get out slowly.

“Try and angle your body sideways so you are not facing a firearm head-on. Also remember to protect your head with your arms and avoid direct eye contact with the hijackers but try to take in as much information as possible, such as what they are wearing, and the sound of their voices. Most importantly, try to remain calm,” he added. 
Govender explained that there are seven golden rules to follow if you are held up:
Remain calm
Do not argue
Do not make sudden gestures
Avoid eye contact but try to remember what the carjacker looked like by identifying and remembering special features
Comply with the hijackers directions (within reason)
Try and get away from the area as quickly as possible

Don’t be a hero – your life is worth more than your car!

 “We encourage the community to be as proactive as possible and recommend having a remote panic on hand in case you encounter an emergency at your front gate,” concluded Govender.

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