In the last three months of 2021, South Africa’s murder rate increased by 8.9%, attempted murder rose by 3.5%, carjacking by 13.8%, and femicide by 4.2% compared to the same period of the previous year.
As chilling as these statistics, presented to Parliament in February of this year, should be, the reality is that many South Africans are unsurprised by the news that crime in our country continues to rise year after year.
While many of us have become accustomed to simply hoping we don’t become another statistic, it’s important we remain vigilant in our day-to-day lives.
Here are some tips to keep in mind to keep yourself and your loved ones safe:
Practice social awareness
While many of us may assume we’re already aware of our surroundings and potential threats, cultivating situational awareness takes practice and patience. Being actively aware and processing the sights, sounds, smells and people around us requires we expend more energy than we typically do, but the payoff is worth it should you ever find yourself in an emergency situation. Develop and hone your skill of situational awareness.
Create an emergency plan for your household
Often, when people hear ‘emergency plan’ or ‘emergency preparedness’, they think of natural disasters. While this may not be a grave concern in South Africa, we certainly have good reason to be prepared. With crime rates on the rise, you may want to initiate a conversation around your household’s emergency plan – whether you live with your family, a roommate, or by yourself.
Creating an emergency plan for your household can be incredibly upsetting and uncomfortable. However, discussing how best to handle multiple emergency scenarios ensures your loved ones are more likely to cope with and navigate stressful situations.
Proactive security can be defined as the preventative steps taken by individuals to secure both their properties and themselves in a bid to divert any criminal activity taking place. It should be seen as an all-inclusive process involving your armed response and security provider, family and community at large.
Being proactive about one’s security is a crucial step in avoiding becoming a target of criminals with the adage of “prevention is better than cure” ringing true.
Set up a neighbourhood watch group
While a NHW member’s job should never include taking the law into their own hands, the success of neighbourhood watches lies in their very existence and presence in the areas they know best – as well as their cooperation and relationships with local police and private security providers.
Setting up a neighbourhood watch group is not as simple as creating a WhatsApp group bursting with enthusiastic, local residents, but it’s worth the work it requires.
As hard as it is to maintain constant vigilance, the reality is that South Africa’s approach to and prevention of crime needs to change drastically before we can let our guards down.