The City of Tshwane has issued has urged residents, particularly motorists and travellers, to exercise caution and “be extra vigilant” when travelling in areas that have been identified as crime hotspots, including the Pretoria CBD, Sunnyside, the Mabopane R80 highway and Mamelodi.
Spokesperson for the Tshwane Metro Police Department, Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba, said it was critical for community members to be wary of the criminal activities, while the TMPD was increasing its efforts to protect residents.
“The safety and well-being of the residents remains the city’s top priority. It is critical that the residents co-operate with the city to make sure everyone lives in a secure environment and reduce their chances of becoming victims of crime,” said Mahamba.
“A recent joint crime operation by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Tshwane Metro Police Department has shown a rise in what is known as "trio crimes" – car-jackings, home invasions and robberies at non-residential locations in and around the City of Tshwane,” he said.
“Some of these areas include Hammanskraal (Temba), Akasia, Brooklyn, Pretoria Central, Sunnyside, Centurion, Soshanguve (Jukulyn area), Mabopane R80 highway, Soshanguve Cemetery, Winterveld, Mamelodi East, Olievenhoutbosch and Fountains Circle via Nelson Mandela Drive, where there are incidents of smash-and-grab.”
Mahamba said while law enforcement agencies were actively addressing the crime concerns in the listed areas, it was imperative that residents and motorists maintained vigilance and adopted the required safety measures to protect themselves and their property.
As the festive season draws nearer, the Tshwane Metro Police Department shared the following safety precautions and measures:
“Stay informed: Keep yourself informed about local crime trends and incidents by following official announcements and local news. Staying informed is essential for being ready and acting appropriately,” Mahamba said.
“Protect your property. Ensure that your homes, vehicles, and personal belongings are always secured. Install reliable security systems, locks, and lighting to stave off would-be criminals.
“When driving, make sure you give the car in front of you one vehicle worth of space during rush hour. Keep all doors locked and windows closed. Keep everything valuable out of sight, including mobile phones, laptops, and handbags,” Mahamba said.
“When someone approaches your window, exercise caution as this can be a distraction while their accomplice(s) robs you on the opposite side,” he said.
The police urged motorists to avoid giving lifts to hitch-hikers at all.
“Never, ever offer a lift to hitch-hikers,” Mahamba emphasised.
He also advised people to rather walk in groups, instead of walking alone.
“Go in groups. Try to travel in groups whenever you can, especially at night or in remote locations. Numbers provide safety, and the likelihood of criminals targeting a gathering of individuals is decreased,” he said.
Before travelling, residents are urged to do proper route planning before taking the trip.
“This is essential when travelling, particularly if you have to drive to an area which you have never been to before. You should also stick to well-lit main roads. Avoid driving after dark to unknown locations as it is easy to become disoriented and a prime target for criminals.
“Maintain a fully-charged cellphone battery at all times and carry a car charger with you. In case of an emergency, have all emergency numbers available on your speed dial. Keep an eye on your surroundings and follow your instincts. Report anything that seems strange or suspicious to the authorities immediately,” said Mahamba.
Before undertaking a trip, the TMPD also advised motorists to ensure that the their vehicles are in good working condition, and serviced.
“Make sure your car is routinely serviced by a trustworthy mechanic and that it is in a good mechanical condition. Make sure your fuel tank is full and make it a practice to fill it up even when it is only halfway full instead of waiting for the empty fuel tank light to come on,” said Mahamba.
“Before leaving on any lengthy journey, get a safety inspection completed. Take charge of your life by learning how to jump-start a battery, change a tyre, and replace wiper blades. Make it a practice to routinely check the pressure and condition of your tyres.
“Furthermore, repair worn-out tyres as soon as possible, and make sure you always have an extra tyre in the boot,” he added.
Motorists also fall victim to crime while parked. Mahamba urged motorists to avoid parking in desolate areas.
“Whether on the streets or in shopping centres, motorists need to be overly cautious about where they park because these areas are frequently hotspots for criminals waiting to prey on unsuspecting and defenceless drivers.
“Avoid parking in desolate areas and always park in a busy, well-lit area where there are other people moving around. Make a mental note of where you park, especially in underground parking areas, and take note of the floor you park on,” said Mahamba.
“Park in such a way that when you approach your vehicle you have a view of the driver’s side of your car when returning to your car. When approaching your car, walk around it and check that all is well, especially looking at the tyres of the car, as criminals can use sharp objects to cut your tyres. Do not talk on your cell phone when walking to your car, this can be a distraction.”
When loading goods into the vehicle, especially at shopping centres, the TMPD advised that this should be done “immediately and swiftly” before driving off.
If public transport is available, Mahamba said it can be a safer option.
“If it is an option, think about taking public transit as a safer option, especially in high-crime areas. Security precautions are frequently in place on public transit to keep people safe,” he said.
“Report suspicious activity. Take the initiative to alert the local law enforcement authorities of any suspicious activity or persons. Your prompt reporting can support ongoing crime prevention and contribute to the deterrence of crime. Any crime can be reported by calling the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) on 012 358 7095/7096 or the South African Police Service (SAPS) hotline which is 10111.”
In the unfortunate event that one falls victim to the rampant crime, the TMPD had this advice:
“If you do become a victim of a crime, the most crucial thing to keep in mind is that your life is more valuable than your belongings,” said Mahamba.
“Let us make our city a safer place for everyone and take these safety measures seriously. The City of Tshwane will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders to address these concerns and enhance security measures in crime hotspots.”
Residents across Tshwane are encouraged to engage in community initiatives such as neighbourhood watch programmes, to foster a sense of unity and collective responsibility.
In September, IOL reported that Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed that almost 200 000 people had been killed in South Africa in the last decade.
The statistics showed that the murder rate was increasing every year.
Cele said 16 000 people were killed in 2013, but last year (2022) more than 25 000 people were killed.
The police have in previous crime statistics showed a spike in murders, with firearms being one of the major weapons used, followed by knives and other sharp objects.