Hijacking: should I fight?


A mother was recently in the news when she refused to get out of her car when hijackers were pounding on the window and then reversed into their vehicle before they fled. The mother was hailed as a hero as have been many other drivers who have taken on hijackers and gotten away with it recently. What is not shared online as often, is people who did the same thing but lost their lives in the process.

Crime Scene 'Do Not Cross' 
Image Supplied by MasterDrive South Africa


When the recent crime statistics were released, vigilante justice was in the top three in Gauteng.

The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says taking on a hijacker, however, is an incredibly dangerous action.

“Sharing selected stories of victory, gives people a false send of confidence. While we cannot say why the hijackers did not shoot the mother and her daughter through the window, we can be sure that there are many other hijackers who will not hesitate to do so.

It is known that many hijackers are in all probability under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol so their actions may not be predictable. Combine that with the belief, held by some that they are impervious to bullets and ‘protected’ means their modus operandi should be treated with a high level of circumspection.”

Most often, hijackers finely orchestrate the entire ordeal and have a plan and people in place should anything go wrong.

“If they need your car to meet their ‘quotas’ your life seldom matters.  An unplanned, crime of opportunity, hijacking is even more dangerous as the criminal does not have the back-up behind them and is likely to be more skittish. Ultimately, unless you feel your life is in danger, surrender your car because it is replaceable, unlike your life. In the case of this victim escaping we can only but be grateful that the outcome in this instance was a positive one,”

says Herbert.  

"The best way to handle a hijacking is to know what to do.”

This really boils down to how we engage in everyday activities which involve being aware of what is going on around us at all times as this will, in all likelihood, accomplish one or possibly even two objectives. 

“Firstly the driver may be able to identify the problem (strangers in the area or a car following) before it impacts on them and thus be able to drive away from the potential hijacking. Secondly, the perpetrators may well take cognisance of the drivers vigilance and opt to take on a target that suits their modus operandi.” 

Of course, no one can guarantee they will never be a victim.

“Consequently, it is worth noting that while we can never know what our reaction will be in this situation, knowledge of how a scenario can play out does empower us. Hijack management training prepares you for what to expect. It provides information on where most occur - homes and intersections – and we can model our driving behavior to deal proactively with potential problems if we encounter them."

“Once you know what to do, it gives you the opportunity to continue practicing this so that it becomes second nature. You can then take the information you learnt and share it with your children and loved ones so that they too know what to do in this frightening situation,”

says Herbert.  

Ultimately, follow your gut but remember most hijackers are after the vehicle and gear themselves to taking it. They are not amateurs and are not afraid to take a life to protect their own so the easier we make it for them, if it happens, will result in a positive outcome – the saving of our life and possibly even that of other passengers.



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