South Africa’s security personnel are working under increasingly dangerous circumstances as criminals continue to rage more violent attacks. In a recent incident, a member of Cartrack’s Ground Recovery team was fatally shot during a vehicle recovery operation last week on the 15 March.
As South Africa’s crime statistics remain on the rise, evidence shows that hijackers are becoming progressively more brazen. Crime prevention, and vehicle recovery teams such as Cartrack’s, are regularly coming under fire from dangerous, and heavily armed criminals.
“We have noticed a significant increase in the number of armed attacks on our personnel over the last five years,” says John Edmeston, Global CFO and Deputy Global CEO for Cartrack. “We do everything we can to ensure our personnel are best equipped to be a safe as possible. All of our recovery team members are qualified, highly trained and competent to carry arms. All team members wear bullet-proof vests at all times.”
According to the latest crime statistics released by the South African Police Service (SAPS) in 2015, carjacking increased 14.2% from 2014 (11 180) to 2015 (12 773). Overall, the statistics released paint a very negative picture for South Africa, with 16 out of the 27 crime categories showing an increase in crime levels.
Cartrack had received notification of a vehicle theft during a hijacking in Thokoza at 13h15 on Monday 14 March, and immediately dispatched their Ground Recovery and Helicopter teams. Less than an hour later the team located the abandoned vehicle close to Orange Farm. The suspects, who had fled the scene, left behind an unlicensed shotgun.
“As the vehicle was stolen during a hijacking, we had immediately notified the SAPS,” says Edmeston. “Our team was waiting at the vehicle for the police to arrive when the suspects, who had been hiding in nearby bushes, opened fire on them.”
A gun fight ensued and one of the Cartrack team members was wounded. The Emergency Medical Services were quickly on scene and although they did everything possible to stabilise the victim, he unfortunately passed away on the scene.
“South Africans need to be aware of the increasing levels of violent crime. We need to see that effective action is being taken to make our communities safer and that the law takes its proper course. At Cartrack, we take the security of our staff and customers extremely seriously and believe that we, and the vehicle tracking industry, are making a real difference in the fight against crime,” says Edmeston. “We are doing everything we can to assist the family of the victim at this very sad time. This is the first incidence of a fatal shooting we have had in the history of Cartrack and we are incredibly sad to lose a member of our team.”