Safety is a foregrounded concern when travelling to South Africa. Especially with the additional travel ban that has been implemented against high-risk countries due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

For those who are still able to and need to travel— it is important to be aware of the potential threats one may be exposed to and what preventative measures can be taken to ensure your overall safety and security. In light of the Coronavirus worldwide outbreak, some extra safety measures may need to be taken into account. 

1. High-Risk Crime Zones 

Crime in certain regions of South Africa is exponentially higher than others. Underdeveloped and deprived areas are more likely to be exposed to violent criminal acts. It’s advised that you research the area you’re visiting in order to prevent travellers from unknowingly entering into these areas. Therefore, confirm with your travel agent that your trip or itinerary does not include these locations. If it is necessary to travel in or through these parts, be sure to leave extreme valuables and travel documents at your accommodation. Do not expose large amounts of cash and preferably do not travel alone. 

2. Transport Safety Measures

Transportation to Avoid:

  • Do not accept transport from independent cab or taxi services.  They may be innocent but there are those who are waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting international tourists. Use a taxi service that is accredited and recognised with major airports, shopping centres, and hotels.
  •  Transportation systems such as minibuses and metro-buses are not advised for overseas tourists. Mini-buses operate between major townships, which can be high-risk crime zones. Metro buses are also used for local commuting to and from work and are not the safest form of transportation. These transportation systems may also be overcrowded and packed with people who could potentially be carrying COVID-19.
  • Where the Gautrain would usually be the go-to form of transportation—connecting OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg and Pretoria; in light of the Coronavirus pandemic – public transportation of any kind is advised against in order to prevent and lower the risk of contamination. 
  • Do not hitch-hike under any circumstances as this will make you a target for robbery or violent acts of crime. 

Transportation options to consider:

  • Uber’s credit card app facility option helps prevent your on-hand cash, which is an important factor to consider when travelling in South Africa. Make sure to utilise Uber’s Real-Time ID check in order to confirm that the Uber driver’s identity matches that of the driver collecting. 
  • Renting a car is a safe option that many tourists consider and is relatively cost-effective for international tourists due to the current exchange rate. Ensure that navigation means are on hand to avoid getting lost or wandering into unsafe areas. Lock car doors and close windows at traffic lights, intersections and stop signs. 
  • Secure Airport transport is the only option to fully guarantee safety and security. Met on arrival, escorted to your transportation, and driven by an experienced security driver trained in defensive driving offers the most affirmative certainty to security and safety. 

3. Coronavirus Safety Precautions 

The Coronavirus has brought with it numerous issues that could jeopardize the safety of locals and tourists alike. As an already economically strained country grows desperate, crime rates may escalate. 

Many South Africans who work in the domestic or service industry may lose their jobs almost immediately as people self-quarantine. Lack of income coupled with lack of resources, as people continue to panic-buy in bulk, could send the already high crime rates soaring. 

On top of the travel precautions previously mentioned, other factors should be taken into account: 

Home Invasion Risks

While staying in high-end hotels or other safe accommodation options may reduce the risk of belongings being raided, it could increase the risk of viral infection. Hotels have a high guest turn-over and human-to-human contact will be difficult to avoid. 

Renting residential property may reduce your risk of contamination due to large crowd avoidance. If concerns about the risk of invasion arise, this may be controlled with the hiring of an executive protection agent to increase the home’s security and handle potential incidents.  

Beware of Scams!

Scams are common in South Africa – from pickpockets, drink spiking, and ATM scams to unofficial cab drivers and guides at tourist destinations. In these situations, do not give people the benefit of the doubt and keep your wits about you. 

A new scam is circulating as Netcare warns the public of criminals masquerading as officials conducting COVID-19 home screenings. They claim to be “assisting the Department of Health with door-to-door screening for Covid-19.” Unknowing tourists may fall victim to this pretence of a protocol. Therefore, be alert and aware, do not let anyone inside your residence and alert SAPS (South African Police Department) at once. 

South Africa is a beautiful country, full of natural beauty and cultural diversity. The Coronavirus has left the future of tourism uncertain, but for those who are able to or have essential obligations and commitments, taking the necessary safety precautions should be of the highest importance. Click here to utilise our protection services! 

Put your safety first!

Everything that you do online immediately creates a stream of personal data. This data is incredibly valuable. Particularly in a world that thrives off data exchanges. Understanding how to protect your data, therefore, becomes essential.

Understanding personal data

Online surveys, Wi-Fi fill-out forms and online shipping are but a few examples of data exchange. This is where you provide personal information in exchange for a service or product. Contrary to belief, the item that you then receive is not the actual product – you are! The data that these systems gather essentially turn you into their product that they can later use for personal gains.

In some cases, your data is innocuous but in many situations, this data poses a real threat to your online safety. Companies, cyber hackers and criminals can piece together this information where all of your personal data is exposed; leaving you vulnerable and susceptible to cyber attacks.

Do not panic! There are numerous ways to protect both your privacy and identity online. Particularly when engaging on social media, which is one of the biggest platforms for cyber data hacking. Knowing the risks immediately puts you ahead. Here are our top social media audit tips for you to employ:

Facebook

As you know, Facebook has subtabs on every profile that allows users to fill in information about themselves. This includes your age, images and your location. These interactive features are open to the public to engage with.

Did you know that in the third quarter of 2019, Facebook had 2.45 billion monthly active users? This substantial user engagement accounts for the high advertising revenues that the site accumulates. When utilising this app, we suggest employing these dos and don’ts to protect yourself:

Do:

·         Only establish connections with people that you know and trust, make sure to check your friend list often.

·         Assume that ANYONE on the internet has access to your personal information on your Facebook page, so take caution when divulging information.

·         Check the privacy settings on your friends and family’s personal pages, as their accounts could expose your personal data.

·         Secure your browser settings, ensuring that you recognise and understand various access points.

Don’t:

·         Post images that have your exact location attached to the image.

·         Assume that because your profile is restricted from public view that the server does not have access to your data that can be shared amongst third parties.

Where to locate Facebook settings: Click from the top right of your Facebook page and tap the word ‘Settings’. Click Privacy in the left column and then ‘Edit’. 

Instagram

Instagram is a photo-sharing app that allows its user to curate personalised content. Instagram has over one billion monthly active users and is one of the most popular social networks worldwide. In terms of the social media platform’s privacy, accounts can be made public or private. Content, however, can be viewed by non-Instagram users via Google search. It is crucial that the following measures are taken to safeguard your privacy:

Do:

·         Only allow close friends and family to follow your account.

·         Ensure that your family and friends take similar privacy precautions to ensure that your personal information remains private.

Don’t:

·        Automate your Instagram posts to go onto your various other social profiles (ie: Twitter and Facebook). This inherently increases your discoverability.

·         Embed hashtags in your images as this increases your visibility when individuals are searching.

Where to locate Instagram settings: Tap on your profile and click the icon found in the top-right corner. This will give you access to all privacy settings.

Twitter

Twitter is a social media networking app that is known for its micro-blogging format. Twitter averaged 330 million monthly active users in the first quarter of 2019. For many, Twitter is a medium to stay up to date on current affairs and the whereabouts of friends. We recommend the following when engaging on this platform to enhance your privacy.

Do:

·         Only establish connections with people that you know and trust, make sure to check your friend list often.

·         Assume that ANYONE on the internet has access to your personal information on your Facebook page, so take caution when divulging information.

·         Secure your browser settings, ensuring that you recognise and understand various access points.

Don’t:

·         Post images that have your exact location attached to the image.

·         Assume that because your profile is restricted from public view that the server does not have access to your data that can be shared amongst third parties.

Where to access Twitter privacy settings: Click on your thumbnail profile picture located on the top banner. From the drop banner menu, select Settings and Privacy. 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a popular professional networking site that connects employers to job seekers that have shared their CV’s. The most recent and accurate number of LinkedIn’s monthly active users is 303 million. Users maintain their pages by regularly updating the page with educational and professional achievements.

Do:

·         Regularly review the connections that you have made on the site.

·         Although this app is based on sharing professional information, ensure that you are cautious and intentional with the information that is shared.

·         Turn your profile visibility “off” when you are no longer actively seeking a job.

Don’t:

·         Post multiple images on this app in order to ensure a level of privacy.

·         Ignore the Data Privacy and Advertising setting option. This can be found under Settings & Privacy > Privacy > How LinkedIn uses your data.

·         Forget to restrict your browser settings to prohibit those on the same server from accessing your information.

Where to access LinkedIn privacy settings: Tap on the Privacy tab under the Settings & Privacy heading. Apply the above-mentioned precautions when creating and maintaining your profile.When sharing information online, we often forget that once that information is shared, there is no control over where it goes. Employing these safety measures will ensure that this year you remain in FULL control over your digital presence. Need a little more help with navigating your online presence? Click here and get in contact with us!

Recently, the current affairs in South Africa have raised some serious flags. Femicide, missing children, protests and xenophobia plague social media posts and news headlines around the country. 

To say South Africa is in a sad state of affairs is an understatement but we’re taking a look at what is happening, how you can keep safe during this time and possibly even make a change.

The current affairs

The current affairs topics seem to centre around four main headlines – femicide, missing children, protests and xenophobia.  

Femicide 

By definition, femicide is the killing of females (being an adult or child) due to their gender. 

The murder statistics in South Africa are terrifying. Statistics from 2017/2018 show that 20 336 people were murdered of which 16 421 deaths were adult men and 2 930 were adult men. This may raise questions of why the outrage about women who were murdered if the amount is significantly lower? 

The answer to this is that the vast majority of women who are murdered are murdered by men and are murdered because they’re women. Men are murdered (more often than not) by men and these murders are not always related to sex crimes nor are they based on gender. 

According to an article by News24, South Africa is rated third in the world with the highest femicide rates. This is something deeply concerning and the safety of women all over our country is constantly in jeopardy. This is why it is vital that important safety measures are known, such as; 

  • Use apps like Life360 and Namola; Life360 is a location-sharing app where you can manage which ‘circles’ of friends and family you wish to share your location with. The Namola app is a South Africa-specific emergency app that allows you to send emergency responders your location and details when you’re in a dangerous situation. You can also share your location with a close loved one on this app.   
  • Keep a can of pepper spray on you (in your bag, in your car, as you walk).
  • Use a GPS to avoid getting lost in unfamiliar places.
  • Always let a friend or family member know where you are, where you are going and when you have arrived – it may sound pedantic but this could be what saves your life.
  • Limit distractions like checking your phone while walking to or from your car.
  • Avoid waiting in your car, driving with the windows open and keep the doors locked.

Missing Children

The rate that children are going missing in South Africa is devastating. This is a horrific thought for parents. There are multiple children missing in South Africa with one case in particular that went viral. A  6-year-old girl was kidnapped in front of her school right in front of her mother. A R 2 million ransom was demanded but due to the attention the case had garnered, the little girl was returned by the kidnappers. This is just one case with a happy ending but this is not the case in most instances. 

Some tips to keep your children safe include;

  • Never leave your child alone in public areas.
  • At social functions and public places like schools, places of worship or anywhere else, write your cell number on the inside of the child’s’ forearm.
  • Teach your child your contact numbers in case they need to get a hold of you.
  • You can buy your child a watch with a tracker inside, this way you can see where your children are, even when they’re not with you 

Protests 

South Africa has become known for its many protests and while these protests are done with due cause, they can spiral out of control.

It is essential to remain “in the know” on your current affairs and the unrest experienced by copious amounts of South Africans. Recently, protests on anti-femicide, poor service delivery and xenophobia are plaguing the streets. It is important to stay safe if you’re close to these protests;

  • Social media can help you find out about various activities
  • Check your usual route before you leave the house to ensure it’s clear
  • While you’re driving, make sure there are no hazards on the road and avoid areas where protests are taking place. 

Xenophobia

Xenophobic violence against Africans in South Africa is spreading and becoming increasingly violent. According to an article by the Mail & Guardian, “outbreak of mob violence and xenophobia was allegedly orchestrated by members of the All Truck Drivers Forum (ATDF), which held mass meetings that went into last weekend in different parts of Gauteng.”

The violence is widespread and has led to the burning and looting of various stores throughout the country and unnecessary harm to many people. 

The xenophobic attacks put South Africa in a terrible light internationally and have generated retaliation from the individuals who are under attack. The best solution is for the government to step in and take control of the situation but until then, it would be best to avoid areas where there is known unrest and to do your best to stay safe during these trying times. 

South Africa is in desperate need of intervention, the country is in a horrible state of disarray and the safety of many South African lives are at risk. Keep safe but if you feel at risk or need any advice on how to enhance your safety, feel free to contact us

More than 16,000 cars are stolen or hijacked each and every year, and this number isn’t decreasing anytime soon. The province with the highest occurrence of occurrence of this crime is with no surprise, Gauteng, where the population is dense and traffic a common occurrence. As this issue is not a new phenomenon in South Africa, many of us have already taken precautions to avoid this type of crime. We religiously lock our cars when driving or parking our cars, we generally keep our windows closed, and we’ve installed alarms, trackers and other deterrent systems. However, time and time again this has proved to have little to no effect on our safety. The problem is also that criminals no longer simply take our cars and leave, but instead resort to violent attacks against individuals and families.

Violence during hijacking increases

According to a report by Tracker, one in ten hijacking incidents prove fatal. The criminals inflict physical harm on their victims as a means to persuade cooperation. Victims have been shot, stabbed and assaulted, the injuries of this often leading to very serious medical implications. Not to mention the very serious mental and psychological damage caused by this traumatic incident. Hijackers have even targeted those with children in the car, affecting vulnerable families on the roads.

It is imperative to avoid a hijacking at all costs. The main way to avoid an incident is by avoiding areas known for these crimes, or “hot-spots.”

Which are the worst areas for hijacking?

You should be vigilant at all times on the road. However, there are particular areas in South Africa for hijacking that include:

  • Nyanga, Western Cape -276 reported hijackings
  • Jeppe, Gauteng – 262 reported hijackings
  • Booysens, Gauteng – 198
  • Honeydew, Gauteng – 184
  • Moffatview, Gauteng -183
  • Delft, Western Cape – 175
  • Johannesburg Central, Gauteng – 169
  • Kempton Park, Gauteng – 168
  • Vosloorus, Gauteng – 158
  • Tembisa, Gauteng – 156
  • Umlazi, KwaZulu Natal – 150
  • Khayelitsha, Western Cape – 144
  • Cleveland, Gauteng – 143
  • Dobsonville, Gauteng – 142
  • Kwazakele, Eastern Cape – 139
  • Moroka, Gauteng – 131
  • Mfuleni, Western Cape – 126
  • Roodepoort, Gauteng – 124
  • Harare, Western Cape – 124
  • Bramley, Gauteng – 123
  • Mamelodi East, Gauteng – 123
  • New Brighton, Eastern Cape – 122
  • Mondeor, Gauteng – 121
  • Alexandra, Gauteng – 120
  • Soshanguve, Gauteng – 120
  • Pinetown, KwaZulu Natal – 117
  • Atteridgeville, Gauteng – 113
  • Ivory Park, Gauteng – 112
  • Florida, Gauteng – 109
  • Rietgat, Gauteng – 108

Who are the biggest targets?

According to statistics, the types of cars that are hijacked include mostly vehicles that are under five years old. These newer vehicles have a higher resell value – whether that is for the car itself or the parts on the car. There is also a rapid increase in four-wheel drive vehicles stolen. What is the number one car targeted? Toyotas, as this type of engine is widely used for minibus taxis.

When hijacking becomes life-threatening

Hijackers often steal cars out of desperation and don’t consider the impact of the victims. Things can turn ugly very quickly as adrenaline and emotions run high.

What can you do to protect yourself and your family?

  • Vigilance is key – always be aware of your surroundings, especially situations where your car is stopped
  • Take extra caution when stopped at an intersection, when filling up petrol or when arriving at your destination – these are key spots for hijackings
  • Be aware of being stopped by false police officers that pull people over – if you are unsure if these are imposters or not, turn on your hazards, slow down and head to the nearest police station
  • Take note of being followed home or to work, and don’t stop at your destination if you suspect you are being followed

What to do in event of a hijacking

  • Stay calm and listen to the demands of the hijackers
  • Be careful to not look them directly in the eye
  • Never argue with a hijacker
  • Don’t make any sudden or fast movements
  • Don’t reach for any belongings

Overall the most important thing to remember is that your life is more important than your car or belongings. If you require protection during travel for your family, don’t hesitate to contact us.

There is a growing trend among homeowners and tenants in South Africa that corresponds directly to the rise in crime. The concept is not unique to South Africa but has in the past few years rooted itself deeply into our existence. We’ve now got an estate for just about any kind of lifestyle you want to live – golf, country, equestrian, retirement and eco-friendly. You name it, there’s an estate for it. While the idea behind an estate that lets you live your life the way you want it is fantastic, things aren’t always as they seem.

Most of what residential estates will offer South African’s is safety and unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. There is definitely an increased prevention of small-scale crime, but this isn’t the type of crime you should be worried about. South Africa’s infiltration of organised and violent crime can still affect you behind the walls of your estate. Here’s how:

A perimeter isn’t everything

The high walls, electric fencing and motion detection cameras in an estate all do a wonderful job in deterring crime. This certainly protects you from most home robberies, petty theft and hijacking, but what it doesn’t guarantee you protection from, is organised crime. Once criminals have gained access to the estate, there is not much between them and their target.

There is also a growing trend in estates where a crime syndicate will move into a home for a short period of time, during which they monitor the behaviour of residents. They use this time to plan and calculate their attacks, as well as to gain easy access to the estate. It may seem like a tedious process but when the reward is high enough, it’s a risk the criminals are willing to take.

VIP’s and business executives are particularly at risk of this high profile crime due to well-known wealth status. VIP’s and executives should take extra precautions to ensure their safety and the safety of their families.

Entry and exit points

The gates of an estate don’t seem like the optimal spot for criminals with the increased number of guards and patrol cars present. However, they are actually a crime hotspot when it comes to hijackings as people tend to relax as they approach the gates. Access controlled gates also mean that during peak hour traffic, you may become a sitting target in the line to get into your estate. But these entrances aren’t the biggest problem in terms of resident safety, as we discuss in depth below.

A false sense of security

The main security problem when it comes to estate living is that people inside the estate become complacent. When you live in a “safe” environment, you tend to put your guard down and ignore nagging suspicions that might pose a risk to your safety. This way, you end up missing something that could have alerted you to trouble. Your children are also at risk of heinous crimes like kidnapping for ransom. For more on this issue, see our blog on the issue of child kidnapping in South Africa.

Here are some tips to help you stay vigilant and measures you should take to stay safe:

  • Take caution when leaving and entering estate gates
  • Keep car doors locked and windows closed, even when inside the gates
  • Keep front doors of your home locked
  • Install an alarm system in your home
  • Report suspicious behaviour in the community
  • Make sure you’re domestic staff and gardeners have references and understand the importance of safety precautions in the home
  • Don’t leave valuables in a visible place where passers-by can see them
  • Get to know your neighbours surrounding your home and be active in the community discussions to increase your knowledge of issues and events that take place

Lifestyle estates offer many benefits to your standard of living. But if you’re looking for the perfect solution for your safety and the safety of your family, a security estate is not enough. If you need a holistic security solution, contact Arcangel Protection Services today.

In the industry of protection services, we see and hear about a lot of different crimes, threats and attacks, but there are none that keep us up at night quite like the crime that involves children. You may think it is the topic of nightmares, simply monsters in the night that only exist in our fears, but the reality is that it is very real. Child kidnapping is increasing in South Africa, and the reason why will frighten you even more. More and more children are taken from their homes by heinous criminals for random, and worse still – trafficking. While it is not something that is easy to discuss, it’s vital to understand to ensure the safety and well-being of your own family. Below, we touch on the current situation in South Africa and go in-depth into measures you can take to ensure your child’s security.

The reality of kidnapping in South Africa

We’ve seen a rise in kidnapping as a whole recently, where organised crime syndicates kidnap important businessmen and women and hold them for ransom. In the cases where criminals have succeeded in their attack, they are highly trained groups armed with deadly weapons. There have, however, also been cases of inexperienced “copycat” criminals who have gotten away with the crime.

Why would criminals risk such a crime? Social activist focused on fighting crime, Yusuf Abramjee, states that “Out of three kidnapping cases – and I’m not going to mentions which three – I know the gangs have cashed in to the tune of R50 million.” The reward for criminals in South Africa is noticeably higher than the risk, making it an increasingly desirable act for gangs and syndicates. Kidnapping expert Martin Ewi states that South Africa is on it’s way to becoming Africa’s new kidnapping hotspot, where we are starting to see an average of 3 kidnappings per month.

Children held for ransom

Unfortunately, your reward becomes far higher and your risk even lower where children are concerned. This is because kidnapping an unsuspecting, trusting and unaware child is far easier to lure than an adult. The reward is also often greater, as families would be willing to do anything to get their child home safely. It is of utmost importance to ensure your child’s safety at all times because kidnapping is a traumatic and damaging occurrence to the entire family.

The issue of child trafficking

According to Missing Children South Africa, a child goes missing every five hours in South Africa, and the unfortunate truth is that most of these children are cases of child trafficking. Due to this growing epidemic, South Africa has had to amend it’s immigration laws. It has even been reported that many of the kidnapping cases involve members of the family or someone that the child knows.  

How can you keep your children out of harm’s way?

Now more than ever, it’s important to know where your child is at all times. It is your responsibility as a parent to keep your child safe.

Safety tips for parents:

  • Never leave your child alone in public areas
  • At social functions and public places like schools, places of worship or anywhere else, write your cell number on the inside of the child’s’ forearm
  • Teach your child your contact numbers in case they need to get a hold of you
  • Keep your child’s ID documents/ birth certificates in a safe place, preferably locked away where only you can access them easily
  • Know where your child’s dental and medical records are
  • Emphasise that your child never talks to strangers
  • Don’t post pictures of your children on social media
  • Disable “geo-tagging” on all kids devices
  • Enhance privacy and security settings on children’s devices
  • Know your children’s social passwords and monitor their activity
  • Talk to your children about the dangers – they can accept and absorb these conversations far better than you may think.
  • Have a serious conversation with your child’s school – discussing topics such as collection from school and how no other person may collect your child from school without verified contact from you.

Things to teach your children:

Your child should know a few simple things when it comes to strangers:

  • They are never to walk or drive anywhere with strangers
  • Adults never need the help of children, if an adult asks for help with something, the child should speak to you, the parent, immediately
  • Kids should be loud and vocal when a stranger approaches them, yelling “stranger” or something to that effect
  • If someone grabs a child, they should be taught to kick and scream and violently attack the vulnerable areas of the attacker’s body such as eyes, nose, throat and groin. The child must alert others around them.

What can you do if an incident does occur?

If your child has gone missing, there is no waiting period before you call the police. It is a common misconception that there is a 24 hour waiting period, however, this is not the case. Call the police or go to a police station immediately and report the situation. Email Missing Children at info@missingchildren.co.za or fax it to 0860-580-3310. Have the following information:

  1. Your child’s name.
  2. Your child’s age.
  3. The circumstances under which your child disappeared.
  4. The details of your SAPS-55(a) form, such as the name of the police officer who provided you with a case number.
  5. A recent photo of your child.

If you don’t want to leave the safety of your children to chance, we provide comprehensive protection services that cater to your needs. If you would like more information, contact Arcangel Protection Services now.