Safety in public spaces – we can play our part

Crime statistics released by Police Minister Bheki Cele recently should serve as a reminder to all South Africans to remain vigilant in their daily lives. That was the comment issued by one of the country’s largest armed response companies, Fidelity ADT this week.

“If you study the report issued by the Minister, it is clear that we need to be prepared to encounter an element of criminal activity when we leave our homes. The brave men and women of the SAPS are doing their best to arrest criminals and prevent crime, but you and I can also make a positive difference,” says Charnel Hattingh, National Marketing and Communications Manager at Fidelity ADT.

Public spaces, she says, carry a range of safety challenges that we need to be aware of and prepared for.

“It is in these public spaces where opportunistic criminals might be looking out for soft, easy targets. This includes parking garages, parks, shopping centres, and other places where large groups of people provide easy cover for would-be criminals,” says Hattingh.

In public spaces, she recommends:

  • Leave the expensive items such as jewels at home;
  • If you have a daily walking schedule to and from the mall, vary it often so that your movement does not become predictable;
  • Err on the side of caution. If someone stops you to ask for assistance, keep a safe distance away from them and keep an eye on other movement around you;
  • Avoid drawing money from an ATM late at night, and if it is urgent rather consider going to an ATM in a well-lit space where a security officer is on duty;
  • Leave the headphones at home. Anything that causes distraction is to be avoided;
  • There is safety in numbers. Take a friend with you, so that you can look out for each other.

“No one likes to think about crime and about what it can do to you or a loved one. Sadly, it has become a reality of life that we have to be prepared for, and a subject we must address with our loved ones and our children.

“The best gift we can give is to make sure that the people we care about, know how to possibly avoid crime in public spaces,” says Hattingh.

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