Johannesburg – There has been a dramatic rise in kidnappings and hijackings, with Gauteng identified as a kidnapping hotspot, according to the latest crime stats released by Police Minister Bheki Cele.
The figures show kidnappings are up 59.1%, while hijackings have risen by 14%.
"The numbers are very worrying, especially around the kidnappings and the hijackings," said anti-crime advocate Yusuf Abramjee.
“In my view, it appears that more and more syndicates are at work. This is organised crime both for kidnappings and for hijackings. These criminals are trying their luck. Though police make significant breakthroughs in some of the cases, it appears that more and more smaller gangs may be at work.”
According to the latest crime figures, 42.1% of kidnapping cases are said to be connected to hijackings, while 2.5% and 0,5% are ransom kidnappings and human trafficking respectively.
Crime expert Chris de Kock said: “People who hear that we had a 59.1% increase in kidnappings may think in terms of classical kidnappings, or human trafficking, but the truth is here in SA we have by far the most kidnappings, and kidnappings are an additional charge to aggravated robbery, like hijacking and house robbery.”
Concern about crime levels is spreading across the country, with police and the justice system apparently failing to effectively curtail the rising numbers.
Abramjee said: “Truck hijackings have gone up dramatically, and even in the last reported period we saw a huge rise in hijackings. As far as kidnappings, we are [also] seeing a dramatic increase, especially kidnappings for ransoms that has been of concern for some time.”
He added: “Also, another worrying element has been some of the arrested suspects over the past few months have been granted bail and this is adding to the high levels of crime in my view and it is all a cause for concern.
“The criminal justice system needs to become very, very hard on the suspects implicated in crimes, especially serious crimes such as hijackings and kidnappings. The granting of bail should be something that should be reviewed.”
Crime experts are concerned about the motives behind these crimes and have called on the minister, the police and the Justice Department to adopt a harder approach towards those found guilty, or suspected to be involved.
“The anti-kidnapping task team has made some good inroads, but obviously not enough, and it’s worrying that more and more smaller gangs are at work. The mere fact that they are now targeting younger people, like we saw in the Cape Town incident this week, where a child was taken, a so-called soft target, is concerning and should be addressed effectively.” said Abramjee