They have been about 10 e-hailing hijackings in the last month in Ikwezi Park. MOTSHWARI MOFOKENG
They have been about 10 e-hailing hijackings in the last month in Ikwezi Park. MOTSHWARI MOFOKENG

Criminals target e-hailing services and the trucking industry

By Velani Ludidi, Shanice Naidoo Time of article published Sep 4, 2021

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Cape Town - Take off your mask, unbuckle your seat belt and wind down your window if it’s sunny.

These are some of the unwritten tips made by hijackers who divulged trade secrets with the Weekend Argus on how not to appear as an easy target.

Philippi East tops the list, followed by Nyanga, Harare in Khayelitsha and Delft in the top 10 areas of where most hijackings are likely to occur in the country.

According to the official crime stats released recently by Police Minister Bheki Cele, carjacking increased by 92.2% for the period April to June 30 compared to the same period last year.

The statistics showed that for the first quarter Philippi East was the top police station for carjackings from April to June this year. For the same period last year, the number jumped from 48 cases to 78. Also listed was Nyanga being third with a decrease from 133 to 67. Harare was fourth with a jump from 31 to 62.

On a drive around Philippi East, a group of hijackers agreed to speak to the paper only if their identities were hidden.

“When coming from the N2 driving into either Nyanga, Khayelitsha, or Delft, take off your mask and safety belt,” said one of the hijackers. “Also, the safety belt can put you at risk of getting shot at. When you reach to unclick your seatbelt, we might panic and think that you are reaching for a weapon, and that is when you get shot.”

The hijackers said cars are not always hijacked to be sold but to perform other criminal activities. Sometimes, they take on cars just to take what is inside.

“There is no formula on how to avoid getting hijacked; we can take you on while you are driving the township way. Most of us want a quick buck, and crime provides that.”

Women are mostly targeted as they are perceived to be weak and have a slow reaction time.

“Rolling your car windows all the way up on a sunny day is a sign of cowardliness, or that you are not from the area. Sometimes we did not plan to hijack, but we saw that you are an easy target, then decide to come for you.”

They also revealed that e-hailing drivers must always inform their clients to sit in front, wear no mask, seat belt, and no cellphone on the car’s dashboard.

Drivers are warned to pay attention to what is around them, and if their gut instinct feels off, listen to it.

In Kwezi Park, Khayelitsha, 10 e-hailing hijackings recorded last month and Nonzame Sili, Community Association chairman, said that the number was shocking.

“People are requesting these e-hailing services close to an infamous passage using a house number in that pathway and when the car arrives they pounce. They are also targeting people from Facebook Marketplace by advertising things they don't have and when the person comes to fetch it they are attacked and everything taken.”

A community member, Pearl Motolwana said she had witnessed five e-hailing services drivers being hijacked.

“They hide and once the car stops they pounce. These are young kids who are robbing these drivers. People without cars are struggling to get transport because the drivers are afraid to come here. It is difficult. Most of the robberies are at gunpoint. People are living in fear here, they are anxious about being exposed to the violence and we feel helpless with the criminality taking over the community,” said Motolwana.

A community member, Pearl Motolwana said she had witnessed five e-hailing services drivers being hijacked.

“They hide and once the car stops they pounce. These are young kids who are robbing these drivers. People without cars are struggling to get transport because the drivers are afraid to come here. It is difficult. Most of the robberies are at gunpoint. People are living in fear here, they are anxious about being exposed to the violence and we feel helpless with the criminality taking over the community,” said Motolwana.

Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk confirmed that the community have taken it upon themselves to close off a section allegedly used to escape after committing a crime.

“Saps Khayelitsha sector commanders are working very closely with the community to safeguard the area and to catch the perpetrators . Over the last few weeks Police have been monitoring the area on a daily basis to stop any criminal activity to take place. More officers are deployed in the area who will continue with foot patrols and ’stop and searches’,” he said

Bolt SADC regional manager, Gareth Taylor said the company was aware of increased hijacking incidents.

“Bolt unequivocally condemns any violence directed towards ride-hailing drivers. We believe that every South African has the right to earn a living and move around without risk of harm, coercion, or fear of death or injury. Crimes against ride-hailing drivers continue to be a national issue of great concern and the safety of riders and drivers utilising the Bolt platform is of utmost importance to us,” said Taylor.

When an e-hailing car is impounded for extortion it is also known as hijacking, Mayco member for Safety and Security, JP Smith added.

The trucking industry has also come under attack with many having to be escorted into certain areas for their safety.

SA Long Distance Truckers editor Afzal Hamed said hotspots included Philippi, Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, Ocean View, Manenberg, Elsies River, Cross Roads, Lavender Hill, Retreat, Steenberg, Bellville South, Atlantis and then the dangerous roads are the R300, Jakes Gerwel Drive and N2 (between Mew Way and Airport Industrial)

He said the moment a truck breaks down or is an accident it is looted. Hamed added that some of the criminals wait on top of bridges and throw rocks at the trucks to stop them.

“A lot of the times they are looted unless a private security comes and waits with them,” he said.

The financial manager of GF Trucking, Meagan Fisher said their red zones are Dunoon, Khayelitsha, N2,R300 (after Delft), Vanguard Drive and Philippi.

“The transport and logistic industry plays a vital role in the economy. Without the trucks or the truck drivers, food, medical supplies, the Covid-19 vaccinations, mining, forestry, fishing and many other industries would suffer,” said Fisher.

She felt the government were not doing enough to protect the industry from hijackings, theft, stoning and looting.

“Many drivers lost their lives and families lost their breadwinners, adding to poverty in South Africa. Nothing is done about these matters. Truck owners and drivers are front line workers. They contribute millions, if not billions to the South African economy.”

Provincial CPF board chairperson Fransina Lukas said she was also aware of tactics used by criminals, but said the public should not be living in fear because of criminals.

“We are living in a democratic country; these unspoken codes by criminals should not allow them to dictate to us. We should be vigilant at all times and know the areas we drive in, or at least know someone from the area. Drivers should try to have a passenger at all times.”

Researcher and policy analyst Ziyanda Stuurman recently published a book where she looked at the future of policing in South Africa. In the book, she mentions that while growing up in Gugulethu, when she purchased her first car, her father had to first drive it around so that criminals would notice it belonged to her father, who was well-known in the area.

“The points raised by the hijackers are very similar to the story I told about my car and my father. You need to be able to blend in as much as possible so you don't make yourself a target. I have also gotten advice before not to come to a complete stop at stop streets or red robots when it's dark; instead, I slow down and make sure there aren’t other cars approaching, but it’s about driving defensively and being constantly aware of your surroundings, especially when it’s dark or it's in part of a township that you don't know well.”

Weekend Argus

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