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Miss SA suffers attempted hijacking, now she's helping SA women fight back

2017-08-29 14:08

Image: Motorpress

Johannesburg - Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters’ Unbreakable campaign kicks off in September 2017 with a number of free workshops at venues throughout Gauteng and one in Cape Town.

Unbreakable takes place at Sun International’s Times Square in Pretoria as well as community centres in Diepsloot, Soweto, Mamelodi and Observatory.

Empowering women

Nel-Peters has worked closely on the initiative with Mark Grobbelaar, a 6th Dan karate expert, who gave up his corporate job to create an organisation called Woman INPowered (WIP) which aims to empower women when faced with life-threatening situations. She has also collaborated with MasterDrive, an advanced driver training company.

READ: Nissan, MasterDrive keep Miss SA safe on the road

She explains: "The Unbreakable campaign aims to educate, uplift and empower South African women. This they can start to do by taking care of themselves and making wise decisions."

Nel-Peters was inspired to launch Unbreakable because of the attempted hijacking she experienced earlier in 2017: "It was an awful experience but I knew how to handle the situation in the best possible way, because I had done WIP and MasterDrive workshops for women that focused on everything from hijacking and robberies and how to handle these situations, to how to get out of toxic and abusive relationships.

"I am a firm believer that knowledge is power and the information I learnt on these courses certainly helped me. So now together we will set up similar workshops."

Eugene Herbert, managing director of MasterDrive: "Whenever we hear that our hijack extraction course has been of real use to someone, it is always gratifying. Being hijacked is an extremely traumatising experience and, if our course helps someone think through the fear, even in some small way, there is no greater reward. Our objective is to help every person who finds themselves in this unfortunate position, escape it safely. I encourage every person who learns these skills to share them with as many as possible."

Tips to avoid being hijacked

Arrive Alive lists the following crucial tips on avoiding being hijacked when approaching and entering your driveway.

1 2km from your house strategy. Be extra alert. Switch off the car radio and concentrate on your surroundings.

2 Remember to stop your vehicle just on the inside of the gate and select reverse whilst waiting for the gate to close. This creates confusion and may buy you a few seconds for the gate to close completely behind you.

3 Check your driveway and street before you leave or enter your premises.

4 Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear from shrubbery where perpetrators can hide.

5 Be aware of unknown pedestrians close to your residential address - do not turn into your driveway - pass and go back later.

6 Liaise with your neighbours - know them.

READ: Crime in SA - This clip shows why you shouldn't leave your car unlocked

7 Be aware of vehicles parked close to your address with occupants inside. It might be perpetrators observing the area.

8 Be alert if your animals do not greet you at the gate as usual. It might be that the perpetrators over-powered them.

9 Phone your home and ask for someone to make sure your driveway is safe and to open and close the gate for you.

10 When returning home after dark, ensure that an outside light is on, or have someone meet you at the gate. Check with your armed response company if they are rendering rendezvous services.

11 If at any time you have to open the gate yourself, make sure nobody suspicious around and the road is clear. Stop right in front of your gate. Do not switch off the vehicle, leave the key in the ignition, get out and close the door (not creating temptation). Then open the gate. Drive in and close the gate immediately behind you.

12 If you have small children in the vehicle, take the key with you (this is the only exception).  You need the key as a “negotiating tool”.  The perpetrators want your vehicle and you want your children.

13 If your children are older, it is advised that they exit the vehicle with you when opening the gate so that you are all separated from the vehicle should an attack occur.

For more of Arrive Alive's hijack prevention tips, click here.

The inspiration behind WIP is Alison Botha, who endorses the programme. In December 1994, Alison was abducted outside her home by two men who raped, stabbed and disembowelled her. They slashed her throat and left her for dead. Alison survived. Since then she has become a motivational speaker, author and was the subject of the acclaimed documentary film Alison, which became the first South African movie to be shown at Los Angeles’ prestigious Dances with Films film festival.

Grobbelaar: “We aim to change the way women view self-defense by seeing the power in being able to take control and, by doing so, changing the outcome of a situation. It is extremely simple, easy to learn and yet devastatingly effective.”

Workshops are free and are limited to 150 women. Booking, which is essential, is on first come, first serve basis. Book on Miss South Africa website  or social media 

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