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This is how last-mile delivery looks like in crime-riddled Africa 

This is how last-mile delivery looks like in crime-riddled Africa 
This is how last-mile delivery looks like in crime-riddled Africa 

Have you ever wondered how last-mile delivery works in a crime-riddled country like South Africa? Despite a crime rate that sends shockwaves worldwide, many Europeans still prefer to bask in the hot African sun and choose the country as one of their favorite summer holiday destination over the festive season. 

Locate2u sat down with Skynet Worldwide Express couriers’ SA commercial executive, Diederick Stopforth, to get a glimpse of extra logistics that must go into planning the last-mile delivery of parcels in a high-risk hijacking country. Criminals often target cargo trucks, leaving companies vulnerable to theft. 

Skynet partnered with a private security company, Fidelity ADT, to use its 200 armed response officers for last-mile deliveries at night. “They can deliver up to 8 p.m. to the consumer. The consumer feels a lot more secure,” says Stopforth. Looking at South Africa’s latest available crime statistics and specifically the attacks on delivery vans, Stopforth says partnering with a security company has reduced the attacks on their drivers at night to zero. 

E-commerce businesses and companies selling high-valued items like electronics use Skynet’s high-security last-mile delivery option. “We also deliver to those with e-commerce sites, where people order single cellphones and single laptops. Syndicates are placing a suspicious order, knowing that when a regular standard vehicle arrives, it can carry up to 30 other high-value items. So they use that opportunity.” 

Parcel theft, including the truck

There are huge discrepancies between Statistics South Africa, the police, and the lived experience on the ground regarding how many hijackings take place annually. Many of the crimes go unreported. Independent agencies’ statistics suggest that as many as 25 hijackings occur daily in the Gauteng province across all courier companies. Hijacking is when heavily armed criminals force a car off the road and make off with the vehicle, leaving the driver alive or dead alongside the road. 

 “We’ve partnered with ADT to ask how you can deliver some of these cellphone orders for us much more securely. These vehicles will deliver the parcel, so it’s not like they will accompany the Skynet vehicle into the last-mile delivery. They will physically do the delivery,” says Stopforth.

The security company uses the courier service’s software to send updated delivery notifications to customers. “Once again, using our technology to give our clients and consumers information and parcel updates. There will be proof of delivery as soon as the parcel is delivered,” Stopforth explains.

Armored trucks for last-mile delivery 

Bulk cellphone orders get delivered in a cash-in-transit vehicle. A bulletproof cash-in-transit car has unique security features to make it safe to transport cash from an automated teller machine to the bank. 

“It’s got military armor specs with cameras and all sorts of technology, which I can’t go into for obvious reasons, to ensure our clients’ parcels are delivered securely,” says Stopforth, adding that the officers are armed, using trucks with bulletproof windows and doors. 

In many instances, insurance companies refuse to insure businesses due to the high risk of criminals targeting couriers in South Africa. 

“We didn’t just do this to solve an obvious problem in the market. We also did it because we care about our drivers,” says Stopforth.

Skynet sees this as a “game changer” in the industry. “[Criminals] will instead continue to target vehicles that don’t have this layer of security.”

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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