FEAR AND LOATHING IN SOUTH AFRICA

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

According to Statistics SA’s ‘Victims of Crime Survey’, many South Africans feel unsafe in their neighbourhoods and believe that crime is increasing. This sentiment was mirrored in an informal survey conducted by 1st for Women Insurance where 97% of the all-female respondents said that they constantly worry about the safety of their family.

Robyn Farrell, the Executive Head of 1st for Women Insurance said that in addition to worrying that something may happen to their family, 33% of the respondents constantly worry about the safety of their home, 28% worry about their possessions and 35% worry about something happening to their car.

“57% of our respondents have been a victim of crime and respond to this constant feeling of being unsafe by always being aware of their surroundings (89%), not wearing any jewellery (33%) and not driving alone at night (26%),” says Farrell.

46% of the respondents said that if they felt safe at home, they would be able to achieve a lot more.

“When it comes to what crime our respondents fear the most, 45% said hijacking, closely followed by house robbery.  A number of respondents also mentioned that they fear child kidnapping and rape,” said Farrell.

To thwart crime, the respondents are taking various precautionary measures. 64% of the respondents have purchased insurance and 47% of respondents have installed anti-smash and grab tinting on their car’s windows. 63% said they added extra security measures to their homes.

“When asked about what needs to be down to curb crime in South Africa, the respondents cited job creation, harsher sentencing for criminals and better, more visible policing,” says Farrell.

With the festive season soon approaching – a notorious boom time for criminal activity such as house break-ins and hijackings - 1st for Women urges South Africans take precautionary measures by following these tips:

HOME

  • Before leaving for holiday, look for potential weak points in your home security. All doors should be fitted with security gates, and windows should be secured with burglar bars.
  • Ensure that you have the best perimeter protection that you can afford, such as high walling and electric fencing.  Security systems such as beams and alarms systems are recommended to provide an early warning of a security breach. These systems should be backed-up with armed response.
  • It is also a good idea to notify your security company that you are going away and ask a trustworthy neighbour or friend to keep an eye on your home. If possible, get a house-sitter.
  • Lock all sentimental and irreplaceable items away.
  • Contact your insurer to make sure that you are adequately covered. This includes home contents and the portable possessions you are taking with you on holiday. The amount for which you have insured the contents of your home should be equivalent to the amount it would cost to replace all the items with new items, at today’s prices.

CAR

  • Use a GPS to avoid getting lost and becoming an easy target. Inform the people / person at your destination about your estimated time of arrival.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and look out for anything suspicious.
  • Be confident and focused. Limit distractions, such as checking or talking on your cellphone, when walking to or from your car.
  • Avoid driving with windows open, keep the doors locked and lock valuables out of sight. Install smash-and-grab window protection if possible.
  • If you suspect you are being followed, make a couple of false turns. If someone is still following you, drive to the nearest police station.
  • Leave enough room between you and the car in front of you to avoid being boxed in.
  • Slowdown in such a way that the light is green by the time you reach a traffic light, especially late at night – this avoids you coming to a complete stop and reduces your risk of becoming a target.
  • Always park in a safe, well-lit area.
  • Many hijackings happen just as you are entering or leaving your home. Having a well-lit, shrub-free driveway and an electric gate (that can switch to a battery during power failures) can help you get in and out safely. Use the remote to close the gate behind you, rather than waiting for the self-timer. This limits a criminal’s window of opportunity.

Farrell concludes:  “It’s unfortunate to see that crime is preventing some women from living their best life. Hopefully these tips will give them, and you, the confidence to make the most of this time of year while staying safe.”



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