Should you fight back against criminals?

Johannesburg – South Africans fed up with criminals should think twice before fighting back during a crime, an expert said ahead of the release of the national crime statistics on Friday.

Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko and Acting National Commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane will brief the police portfolio committee in Parliament and then the media on the latest crime statistics as collated by the South African Police Service.


 The head of governance, crime and justice division at the Institute for Security Studies, Gareth Newham, said research would need to be done to see whether victims were increasingly fighting back, but emphasised that victims of crime should not aggravate an armed robber.

“It’s generally not recommended to fight back if the person who is confronting you is armed and you are not trained or you’re not trained to deal with that situation,” Newham told News24.

“Research that we have seen shows that in particular, robbery situations like house robberies, business robberies and even street robberies where victims have fought back, it more likely than not triggers violence from the perpetrator.”

He added that docket analysis of house robberies show that fighting back is much more likely to result in injury or death.

“This is because the people committing these robberies are usually armed and they are of the kind of personality that will use violence against you if you do not follow their instructions. So any sign that you might fight against them or resist them could lead them to using weapons against you, and in that situation we would say that it’s safer to comply.”

‘Rather safe than sorry’

The vast majority of people who fall victim to house robberies, business robberies and street robberies and simply hand over the goods tend to come off unscathed.

While all situations are different, the general consensus would be to stick to the old saying: “rather safe than sorry”, Newham said.

Fighting back is not always the answer, but in some incidents South Africans have managed to fight off their attackers.

In August a Durban cyclist stabbed and killed a suspected robber and injured another when they attacked him in Pinetown.

In the same month a group of hijackers attempting to steal a sports car ended up with their hands empty as their victim fought back.

In another July incident a Cape Town jeweller managed to fend off a gang of armed robbers who tried to empty his display cabinet.

Also in July, a 70-year-old woman made things tough for three gunmen who confronted her at her home in a Sir Lowry’s Pass security estate.

In May a post office employee managed to chase down an armed robber before being stabbed with a knife repeatedly in the head. He survived.

However, in July a top media strategist was murdered after a scuffle ensued between him and robbers during an attack in his garage at his Randburg home.

However, in July a top media strategist was murdered after a scuffle ensued between him and robbers during an attack in his garage at his Randburg home.

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