More South Africans are turning to armoured vehicles as crime levels soar

There are many armoured vehicle options in SA, from basic bakkies right through to luxurious SUVs like SVI’s LC300 with VIP seating. Picture: Supplied

There are many armoured vehicle options in SA, from basic bakkies right through to luxurious SUVs like SVI’s LC300 with VIP seating. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 16, 2024


As violent crime continues to cast a dark shadow over our basic sense of safety and security, South Africans are looking for more ways to protect themselves, both at home and on the road.

Murders have increased by 77% since 2012, according to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and car hijackings have more than doubled during that same period from around 9,540 to 22,742 in 2023.

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-TOC) has also noted an increase in targeted assassinations in the country, amounting to more than two per week in 2022.

Assassinations have become such a regular news headline, that South Africans hardly bat a desensitised eyelid at them anymore.

All considered, it’s not surprising that the armoured vehicle industry is booming in Mzansi.

Pretoria-based manufacturer SVI said it had seen a 50% year-on-year growth in its turnover in the past three years, and last year the company delivered a record 200 vehicles to customers.

SVI’s business development director, Nicol Louw told IOL that the armoured vehicle market is cyclical, with major crime events usually leading to a spike in demand. Such a spike was seen after the KZN riots of 2021.

High profile crimes and kidnapping are another driver of demand, and the uncertainty ahead of the 2024 elections and the current high stages of load shedding are also making people feel uncomfortable, Nicol said.

Yusuf Moolla, marketing manager of Armoured Mobility, remarked that increased crime levels were leading to a greater awareness of the armoured vehicle products on the market.

“Kidnappings, as well as violent attacks are on the rise, and those that are potential targets are finding additional avenues to protect themselves and their loved ones by having armoured vehicles,” Moola said. In such cases, B6 protection against sniper rifles and AK-47s is preferable.

“For the more common crimes, such as smash and grabs and hijackings, where it is done more at random than targeted, more South Africans are turning to our B4 protection level,” Moola added.

While B6 installations are designed to shield you from almost any weapon, B4 armour is a more affordable and often more discreet solution that protects against most handguns.

Both companies offer a wide range of B4 and B6 level vehicles, with conversion prices starting in the region of R500,000, excluding the vehicle.

These and other retailers such as MMI also offer a wide range of high-end SUVs selling for over R2 million, and there are many optional extras available such as intercom systems, roof plating and even VIP seating, like SVI offers in its Toyota Land Cruiser 300.

ALSO READ: Here’s how much it costs to buy an armoured vehicle in South Africa

SVI says commercial clients, such as those in the mining and security industries, are still the main volume drivers for the manufacturer.

However, there is still significant business from private clients who prefer discreet armour for their double cab bakkies, as well as larger SUVs like the Toyota Land Cruiser 300 - a top seller for SVI - and even luxury family cars such as the Mercedes V-Class.

And it’s about more than just bullet protection.

“If you drive an armoured vehicle, you can stop at red traffic lights at night, take the short-cut home and keep your family safe. Even brick-throwing and other violent actions that happen, won’t impact on your safety,” Nicol Louw told BizNews.

“A brick from a bridge, for example, will just bounce off the windscreen. It will still damage the glass, but it won’t come into the cabin. Your ballistic protection is what it’s all about.”

When it comes to our overall safety, South Africa remains among the most dangerous countries in the world, Armoured Mobility pointed out.

“For many civilians, packing up and shipping out is not an option, that’s why safety persists as a top priority,” the manufacturer remarked.

IOL Motoring