The harsh reality of our beautiful country is that you are unlikely to access any form of news media without reading about a crime or assault. I like to stay positive and approach things from a “What can I do?” angle, so when I was mugged at gunpoint I eventually got to that point (after dealing with anger, nightmares and anxiety) and want to share what I think I could have done.
I was running late for work and decided to walk the shorter, but much less busy, route. The assailant pointed his gun at me and instructed me to hand over my handbag. I froze, burst into tears and threw my handbag at him. He told me to go so I just started running. This experience really was so traumatising that I had nightmares for months.
This is what I should have done to not be just another statistic.
I should not have walked an isolated route alone
Safest is to try and avoid walking alone during the day but especially at night. If you really have to go somewhere alone stay away from isolated areas.
I should have listened to my instincts
Be aware of your surroundings and follow your instincts. If you feel that something is not right try to get yourself out of the situation as soon as possible. If you have a group of people walking behind or in front of you try to walk close to them this way it will look like you are together.
I should not have ‘advertised’ that I had valuables on me
When you have to walk somewhere take off all your expensive jewellery and leave it at home. Don’t walk around playing games or texting people on your phone; doing this makes you an easy target.
I should not have carried cash on me
It’s simple – don’t walk around with large sums of money.
Tip: If you have cancelled credit cards don’t throw them away keep them in your wallet and while walking take out all your working cards put them in a safe place on your body where they won’t fall out, leave the cancelled ones in the wallet with some change this way if something happens you will be able to give the thief something without losing anything valuable.
What I did right: I wasn’t being a hero.
Nothing is worth your life. When asked at gunpoint to hand over a wallet, laptop or phone, consider this – It can be replaced. If something like this ever happens to you just do what the criminals are asking you to do because nothing you can buy is worth your life, and your refusing will lead to the criminal losing control. The last thing you want is an out of control anxious individual with a gun pointed at your head.
Useful telephone numbers:
- South- African police service emergency number 10111
- Crime stop (report criminal activity anonymously) 08600 10111
- Mobile phone emergency number 112
Words: Natassha Burrell