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09 December 2011 at 14:08 - Posted by Anonymous

Don’t let your guard down when on holiday


When people leave a place like Gauteng to go on holiday, they think they leave the problem of crime behind. However, people need to understand that we live in a country with high levels of crime and that no place is safe.

This is the view of the Institute of Security Studies’ Johan Burger on the perception that many people from crime-ridden places like Gauteng have when they visit other areas, therefore letting their guard down and falling victim to crime.

Burger said now that the festive season is upon us, criminals are on the prowl and ready to pounce on their victims as they know that people are carrying a lot of cash around to buy presents.

Criminals not only rob holidaymakers as they walk down the streets of their holiday destinations sightseeing, but they also break into their chalets and attack them there.

On Tuesday night, a Vanderbijlpark woman was raped in front of her teenage sons at a holiday resort in Richard’s Bay, KwaZulu-Natal. Four armed men, who also robbed the family, are believed to have entered the premises while the woman and her family were at the shops nearby. The gang then went on to rob an elderly couple in the same resort.

And on December 22 2008, a Northcliff family – Dr Moosa Peer, 57, his wife Mehrooniesa, 51, their 16-year-old twin sons and a nephew – were attacked in their chalet at a camp in Kosi Bay, KwaZulu-Natal. The attackers held a gun to their son’s head, hit him and threatened to shoot him and also struck the doctor on the head with a firearm. The robbers then tied up the family and left them there, taking their car with them. The family were rescued only three hours later when one of the security guards – who had been taken hostage by the robbers and left in the area – returned to the lodge.

Burger said some criminals were attacking their victims in chalets and holiday homes as they knew that while there, they were in a position to get their personal information, jewellery and cars.

Therefore, he advised, people needed to still be security conscious even though they were supposed to be on holiday and in a relaxed mode.

“What crime does is that it makes people uncomfortable. You can’t just leave your windows open when you go out because you want a bit of fresh air. And if you arrive at a place and feel that it’s not safe enough, go somewhere else. It is the responsibility of the owners to ensure that their place has basic security systems in place, but you would still have to take necessary precautions like you would when you are in your own home,” Burger said.

Annelie Barkema, national project leader for the Tourism Safety Initiative, said holidaymakers must also be aware of their surroundings when they reach their destinations. “Try to explore in groups and stick to well-lit streets. Beware of spiked drinks and have your drink in front of you to ensure that it’s not spiked along the way,” Barkema said.

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