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South African families resort to bullet-resistant cars amid marked increase in kidnappings, murder

Sandton-based Armoured Mobility which in builds bullet-resistant vehicles for local and international markets said it has observed a rapid increase in demand for armoured vehicles in South Africa and is now ramping its capacity. Photo: Jonisayi Maromo/IOL

Sandton-based Armoured Mobility which in builds bullet-resistant vehicles for local and international markets said it has observed a rapid increase in demand for armoured vehicles in South Africa and is now ramping its capacity. Photo: Jonisayi Maromo/IOL

Published Jun 15, 2022

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Pretoria – Crime statistics released by Gauteng Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela on Tuesday showed that hijackings, kidnappings and murders top the list of serious offences committed in all districts of the populous province, including Tshwane, Joburg and Ekurhuleni metros.

The trend in Gauteng is in sync with the national picture painted by Police Minister Bheki Cele earlier this month when he released South Africa’s official crime statistics for January to March, which he described as “a low note for safety in the country”.

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According to the national crime statistics, there was a 22.2% increase in murder, with 1 107 more people killed between January and March compared to the same period last year.

In Gauteng, Mawela revealed this week that the province had recorded a 45.2% increase in murders, which amounts to 1 403 people killed during this period.

Gaute police commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela. File Picture: Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)

This is 437 more people murdered as compared to the same three-months period in 2020/2021.

Analysis by police shows that murder cases have causative factors, including arguments, misunderstandings which are not domestic related, and road rage and provocation.

Kidnappings have also been increasing national, and Gauteng is the undisputed kidnapping capital in South Africa, where the kidnapping cases have tripled.

“Kidnappings are continuing to rise in this province across all districts. The causative factors remain the same. They happen during hijackings as during the commission of this crime victims are taken with, deprived of freedom of movement and dropped off at other places later,” said Mawela.

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“During the three months under review, we have seen an increase with 1 563 cases reported as compared to the same period in 2020/2021 where there were only 524 cases reported.”

Leading anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee told IOL that spooked by the shocking crime statistics and experiences, South African families are constantly reviewing their safety and security measures and current trends show a scramble for bulletproof vehicles, which come at a significant financial cost.

Anti-crime activist and journalist Yusuf Abramjee said more South African families are acquiring bullet-resistant vehicles amidst the shocking statistics of kidnappings tripling in provinces like Gauteng. Photo: Jonisayi Maromo/IOL

“The high crime rate and the high levels of crime are prompting citizens to look at other security measures to protect themselves and their families. Armoured vehicles are more in demand, and yes, they come at a price, but people’s lives are also important. People are investing in this form of security for themselves and their families,” said Abramjee.

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“If one looks at kidnapping, there is over 3 000 kidnappings reported in South Africa over a three months period, with the hotspots being the Heidelburg area and Delmas. Gauteng is the kidnapping capital of South Africa, and that has prompted many to take extra security precautions.”

Abramjee said the sharply rising kidnapping figures have also contributed to the appetite for bullet-resistant vehicles, which were previously a preserve of State officials and dignitaries.

“An armoured car protects the occupants from these people (assailants) if you have the B4 or the B6 level, which can actually protect against the AK47 or R5 rifles. Being in such a vehicle certainly adds a layer of protection. As an anti-crime activist, I advise people who can be targets or those who can afford to invest in an armoured car,” he said.

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“There have been incidents where people have been attacked, and the armoured cars saved them, be it from kidnappings or hijackings.”

Sandton-based Armoured Mobility which in builds bullet-resistant vehicles for local and international markets said it has observed a rapid increase in demand for armoured vehicles in South Africa and is now ramping its capacity. Photo: Jonisayi Maromo/IOL

Nabeel Khan, a manager at Armoured Mobility in Sandton, told IOL that many resort to bulletproof after being spooked by war-like videos of gory crime scenes circulated often on social media.

“With everyone on social media, we also witness many cameras capturing crimes, giving us the brutal truth of some of these actions. Due to this, we have seen an increase in interest from clients looking to get themselves in armoured vehicles,” said Khan.

“Some (customers) enquire for themselves and respective bosses, while others look at the largest vehicles to keep their family safer on the roads.”

The B4 armoured level is designed to protect occupants of a vehicle from attacks with handguns and rock-throwing incidents.

“The B6 armour package will save the driver and passengers from attacks with higher calibre weapons, including the AK47, R5 and assault rifles. Both versions of the armour give the needed layer of protection from violent attacks,” said Khan.

He noted that affordability is the big question when someone is purchasing an armoured vehicle.

“South Africa does have a percentage of high-net-worth individuals, and there has been an increase of interest in our cars from this bracket. This is due to the increase in hijackings, violent crimes, and rock throwing cases. When it comes to someone's life, life is indeed priceless,” Khan concluded.

Armoured Mobility’s level B6 protection adds approximately 350 kilograms of additional weight to the vehicle because of the “premium lightweight armouring material” used.

Armoured Mobility which in builds bullet-resistant vehicles for local and international markets said it is ramping up its production capacity amid a rising demand for bulletproof vehicles. Photo: Jonisayi Maromo/IOL

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