11 May South Africa sees kidnapping crime on the rise
South Africa is seeing kidnapping crime on the rise, with the latest crime statistics released by the police ministry painting a bleak picture.
Between October and December 2021, 2605 kidnapping cases were reported, which is an increase of 686 more cases compared to the previous reporting period. The last four months of 2021 showed the highest number of reported kidnappings in five years in South Africa.
Warren Myers, CEO of South Africa’s on-demand security and medical response platform AURA, was joined by anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee in the third of a series of monthly webinars to discuss this worrying situation and what citizens can do about it.
Abramjee said: “Kidnappings for ransom are operated by large, specialised syndicates, who are demanding anything between R500 000 to R20 million in ransom.
“The perpetrators of these kinds of crimes are opportunistic, targeting business and high-profile people from wealthy backgrounds. After choosing a victim, they put them under surveillance over a period of weeks or months, take them at gunpoint and keep them until they get the ransom money.”
Abramjee also explained how kidnapping is also rife in lower0income communities but on a smaller scale. He said: “In these situations, gangs will pick up a victim and demand a small amount. The person pays what they can via e-wallet or something similar and the person or child gets dropped off again.”
Myers responded by clarifying that whilst kidnapping for ransom is on the rise, the majority of kidnapping cases are hijacking and robbery related. He said: “Over 60 percent of kidnappings in Gauteng are a result of victims being hijacked and taken to ATMs to drain their credit cards. This is classified as kidnapping when it is reported.”
Myers and Abramjee also shared some advice on how to be proactive and avoid becoming a kidnapping victim:
- An obvious precaution is to avoid becoming a target – don’t wear flashy jewellery or watches while out in public.
- Be fully aware of your surroundings at all times, particularly when approaching your home. Keep an eye out for unusual cars or people loitering around and report suspicious behaviour to the authorities.
- Avoid crime hotspots and areas where you can be easily separated from your children.
- Join a network or security company that you can rely on in times of trouble, programme emergency numbers into your phone or download a safety app with a panic button on your phone.
- Change up your routine. Vary the times you leave home and return and avoid using the same routes every day.
- Educate your children about crime. Instruct them to call you immediately if something is amiss or if there’s an unexpected change in plans, even if it comes from someone they know well. Tell them not to get into cars with strangers, and consider a password system, where the person collecting them needs to give a password, and if they can’t, your child immediately calls for help.