118 courier vehicles hijacked in South Africa every month

Police minister Bheki Cele has released crime statistics for the first three months of 2021, showing that four courier vehicles were hijacked every day in South Africa.

During the first quarter of the year, aggravated robberies such as carjackings increased by 5% when compared to the same period in 2020.

This included 354 couriers vans or trucks which were targeted for their cargo, which Cele said was typically food, appliances, and other prized goods.

Courier activities have increased in recent months as ecommerce boomed due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to shop from home.

Garry Marshall, the CEO of the South African Express Parcel Association (SAEPA) previously told MyBroadband that were being targeted for the items they transported, and that it was clear that co-ordinated syndicates were involved.

Based on anecdotal evidence from the courier companies the organisation represented – which includes DHL, FedEx, Globeflight, and RAM – the situation was worse than ever before.

“A lot of these are reported as armed robberies, and some of them are reported as hijackings, and I think many of them are not reported at all,” he stated.

Marshall also told Carte Blanche that some of the courier companies experienced up to three attacks per day.

In one case, surveillance footage showed robbers robbing a truck transporting mobile phones, which they cut open using a generator-powered grinder.

They then proceeded to offload the cargo in just three minutes, before fleeing the scene. The footage of this incident can be seen in the Carte Blanche report below, around the 2:50 mark.

The crime stats further showed that while cash-in-transit robberies dropped by 10.6%, truck hijackings increased by 24.6%.

Robberies at residential premises also climbed by 7.6%, while robberies at non-residential premises rose by 2.8%.

Cele said there was an overall decline of 8.5% in contact crimes over the period, which includes assault with grievous bodily harm, sexual offences, common assault and robbery, and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

“We have made gains in categories of crime that were previously stubborn,” the minister stated.

However, cases of murder and attempted murder increased by 8.4% and 8.7%, respectively.

“4,976 people were killed in the first three months of 2021.This is 387 more people killed compared to the corresponding period in the previous financial year,” Cele said.

“The top four causative factors of these murders still remain arguments, robberies, both residential and non-residential and street robberies, mob justice and gang-related incidents.”

“From a sample of 4,911 murders, a total of 2,378 people were killed in public places like streets, open fields, recreational parks, beaches, and abandoned buildings,” he added.

Crime scene_police tape

Cele expressed grave concern over the killing of police officers, which he said could cause a crisis.

In the first three months of this year, 24 SAPS officers were killed.

“11 of them were killed on duty while preventing, combating or solving a crime. Some were attacked or ambushed while conducting patrols and their official firearms stolen,” Cele said.

“If we are to win this fight against crime, such criminal acts against police can’t be ignored but [must] be addressed at the community level.”

The table below shows the changes in the number of reported cases for various crime categories during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

South Africa rime statistics – Q1 2021
Crime Category Cases Change compared to Q1 2020
Contact crimes
Murder 4,976 +8.4%
Sexual offences 12,133 -3.9%
Attempted murder 4,582 +8.7%
Assault to do grievously bodily harm 36,417 -9.3%
Common Assault 38,889 -9.3%
Common Robbery 9,549 -22.1%
Robbery with aggravating circumstances 30,768 -7.9%
Sexual offences
Rape 9,518 -3.9%
Sexual Assault 1,910 -0.2%
Attempted Sexual Offences 433 -12.9%
Contact Sexual Offences 272 -12.8%
Aggravated Robbers
Carjacking 4,513 +4.9%
Robbery at Residential Premises 5,288 +7.6%
Robbery at Non-Residential Premises 4,872 +2.8%
Robbery of Cash-in-Transit 42 -10.6%
Bank Robbery 1 +100%
Truck and courier hijacking 354 +24.6%
Contact related crimes
Arson 732 -14.2%
Malicious damage to property 24,850 -4.8%
Property related crimes
Burglary at non-residential premises 15,215 -17.2%
Burglary at residential premises 40,568 -20.5%
Theft of motor vehicle and motorcycle 9,240 -17.2%
Theft out of or from motor vehicle 20,111 -27.7%
Stock theft 6,089 -11.1%
Other serious crimes
All theft not mentioned elsewhere 15,215 -14.2%
Commercial crime 40,568 +11.7%
Shoplifting 11,597 -19.5%
Crime detected as a result of police action
Illegal possession of firearms 3,184 11.7%
Drug-related crime 35,932 17.1%
Driving under the influence of alcohol 8,583 55.6%
Sexual offences detected as a result of police action 2,335 27.7%

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118 courier vehicles hijacked in South Africa every month