Following a growing report about motorists picking criminals on the roadsides, the South African Police Force calls on motorists in South Africa to stop picking hitchhikers.
Referring to motorists travelling on the R55, the state police warned that motorist must desist from picking up hitchhikers.
Hitchhiking (also known as thumbing, hitching, or autostop) is a means of transportation that is gained by asking people, usually strangers, for a ride in their automobile or other vehicle. A ride is usually, but not always, free.
This call follows separate incidents which took place last weekend near Olievenhoutbosch where two motorists were hijacked after picking up two females who pretended to be stranded.
The police revealed that both hijacked motorists were knocked unconscious and woke up to find their vehicles had been stolen.
“We are investigating circumstances surrounding these incidents. We urge motorists to be extra vigilant and not to give strangers lifts,” police’s Tumisang Moloto cautioned motorists.
Officers say although it may seem like a nice gesture, motorists picking up hitchhikers could be putting their lives in danger.
Whenever we see hitchhikers or anyone on the side of the roadways, it’s law enforcement’s job to check these individuals’ identity in order to make sure they’re not on the run. They could be wanted in different stations, the police further explained.
No matter the number of warnings from the police, many people will still hitchhike if they find themselves short of cash or during an emergency.
Some may even dress to present that image of ‘I’m fine. I’m just in a bad situation financially. Will you pick me up?’ That could be a decoy to get motorists to stop and pick them up.
Even in the most dire of circumstances, hitchhiking is never an advisable option for responsible travellers. If you find yourself in a position that causes you to consider hitchhiking, whether it be from boredom, lack of cash or impatience with the public transport system, ask yourself if your safety or indeed your life is really worth the risk.
Nevertheless, if you find yourself being forced out of sympathy to pick up hitchhikers or to be hitchhiked, you can do the following for your safety:
- Turn down any ride with which you do not feel comfortable.
- Observe the make, model and registration of the car before getting in.
- Do not accept a ride in a car full of strangers.
- Try to sit up front in the passenger seat.
- Make sure that there are no child safety locks on before you get in a car.
- Keep your bags with you at all time.
- Keep cash and your passport and travel documents on your person.
- Travel with at least one other person. Safety comes in numbers.