Durban - The death of 4-year-old Taegrin Morris during a hijacking last Saturday shocked the nation.
The little boy was dragged by his mother’s hijacked vehicle in Reiger Park on the East Rand in Joburg. His mother tried to pull the toddler out of his seatbelt, but he became stuck. He was dragged for about 4.5km and the vehicle was found abandoned in Boksburg.
The horrific incident has put the spotlight on hijacking, with the KwaZulu-Natal SAPS advising motorists and families to be vigilant of their surroundings at all times.
Colonel Jay Naicker, provincial police spokesman, says in hijacking situations both the perpetrator and the victim have one thing in mind – survival.
“Hijacking involves planning and the criminals are likely to have more experience, thus having more control over you and themselves.”
He said a hijacking was usually over in a matter of seconds or minutes.
“Try your utmost to stay calm. Listen to the hijackers and do what they tell you to do,” said Naicker.
During a hijacking, Naicker said, your life and that of those with you must be your priority.
“Resisting the hijackers may cause them to become violent, or even deadly. Always remember that possessions can be replaced, a life cannot. Also remember that the hijackers are probably just as scared and nervous as you are, so try not to panic and do anything the hijackers may not be expecting. Do not scream or make sudden movements, such as motioning with your hands,” said Naicker.
Try to avoid eye contact with the perpetrator and keep your hands where the hijackers can see them, ideally at chest level, he advised.
If you are ordered out of your car wait for the perpetrator to open the door or, if they order you to, do it slowly with one hand, keeping the other where they can see it.
“Slowly move away from the car so that you cannot be perceived as a threat to them. Listen carefully and make sure you understand what the hijackers are saying and follow their orders.
“And quietly but clearly assure the hijackers that they can take the car,” said Naicker.
Looking at the perpetrators and taking a mental note of what they are wearing or their features will assist with trying to identify them later.
“Make mental notes of how many attackers there are, what they are wearing, their ages, and any facial or other physical characteristics. However, do not stare at the hijackers; try not to be obvious,” advises Naicker.
Hijackers may not notice a sleeping baby in the back seat. If this is the case, tell them and point out that the child is not a threat and will make things more difficult for them. Naicker said motorists should never move to release the child without the perpetrator’s permission.
He said if ordered to lie down, do so and remain there with your head down. Do not watch the perpetrators. Stay still until you are sure they have left, and only then go for help.
After the hijacking, “Get help and immediately report it to the police,” he said. He advised victims get counselling. “Seek help within hours. Do not fool yourself into thinking you’ll ‘get over it’.
“Criminals look for new opportunities and situations that make their potential victims vulnerable, and develop new techniques to get our vehicles,” concluded Naicker.
How to avoid a hijacking situation
* Always travel with the car doors locked.
* Leave enough room between your car and the one in front to avoid being boxed in. Make sure you can see where the tyres of the car in front make contact with the road.
* Attract the attention of other motorists or pedestrians if you think you are in danger. You can use the hooter, flash your lights, put your emergency lights on or shout.
* Be aware of anybody who approaches your car or is loitering near traffic lights, stop streets, parking areas or your driveway.
* If you suspect that you are being followed, you should ideally drive to the nearest police station. If this is not possible, drive to a safe place, but don’t go home.
* Don’t enter your garage or a parking area if you believe you are being followed. Drive to the nearest police station.
* Don’t stop if, for example, a passer-by indicates that your car has a flat tyre or other defect. Drive to the nearest service station or safe area and check it there.
* Don’t tell strangers your movements or plans.
* Don’t pick up hitchhikers or unknown people.
* Don’t leave your car door open and the engine running while opening your garage door or gates. Criminals act quicker than you would expect.
– These 10 tips are provided by the SAPS.