By Sifu Lawrence Hochobeb
ROBBERY is defined as: The taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody or control from a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear. It is “give it up or else”.
This makes such encounters extremely dangerous from the onset. The victim seldom has a chance to effectively defend him/herself. This is why it is critical for a would-be victim to recognise the developing danger signs of such an attack and take evasive action before the attack occurs. It cannot be stressed enough that with robbery the criminal has come prepared to commit violence. There is no “warm up time” for the criminal. When he walks up to you he has already escalated it to the point where using physical violence makes sense to him.
There is a huge chance that you will be facing a weapon when robbed. The odds of facing a weapon go up significantly if you are being robbed by only one person, since the individual robber tends to prefer weapons, and guns are the most common. Guns are fast, easy to get and since most robberies happen at point-blank range it requires very little training to hit the target.
All the robber has to do is point in the general direction of the victim and pull the trigger.
Most robberies are committed by individuals, while gang robbery means you are being attacked by a bunch of criminals. It doesn’t matter if they don’t have weapons since many people beating you can kill or injure you just as well as one person with a weapon. Gangs roaming or hanging around in an area are a serious danger sign. What makes this kind of robbery even more difficult is how often these kinds of robberies will be explained away as “they were just messing around”. And since no weapons have been displayed/used it is quite difficult to prove intention in such cases.
This is why knowledge, awareness and avoidance are your best strategies for staying safe from robberies. You can prevent yourself from being put into a situation where you can be robbed. It might require you to take extra steps.
Avoidance sounds silly until you stare down the barrel of a gun, then it begins to make all sorts of sense. Unfortunately, by then it is too late.
For those of you who find the idea of using lethal force for protection uncomfortable, it is critical to realise that it is exactly the level of force, whether lethal or grave bodily injury that the robber is offering you. And that means you are in serious danger.
Ignorance of the law – especially when it comes to using lethal force – is not a defence anywhere. You need to make a serious decision if you are willing to use lethal force to protect yourself because your life is in danger. If you choose to use lethal force, then you are accepting the responsibility that you will be acting with dedication to take another human life.
If you ever do that, you will have to live with the repercussions and guilt for the rest of your life. And that is not easy. Therefore, deciding to use lethal force is not an act of boldness but a rational, calculated decision to take responsibility. If you decide not to use deadly force, know that it too has consequences.
However, it is important to realise that when it comes to robbery it can be, and often is, a life and death issue. You can either become a killer or be killed and it can happen in a blink. If you have not made an informed decision before finding yourself in such a situation, then the odds are seriously against you being able to do it in the middle of a crisis. As the decision has been made in advance, so too is the law clear when you are legally allowed to use deadly force to defend yourself. Many people think about getting a weapon or self-defence training to protect themselves from robbery. Others are disgusted by the idea.
I maintain this is a personal decision for each person to make. If you do choose to acquire either a weapon or self-defence training, however, you are not exempted from deploying an avoidance strategy. Remember, there is a psychological cost of using lethal force on another human being especially if you did not try to avoid the situation.
There is no reason to live in fear of crime and violence. There is, however, reason to take reasonable precautions that will deter criminals from choosing you as their victim. The harder you make it for the criminal to rob you, the more likely he is to take his trade elsewhere. You wouldn’t have stopped the criminal from being a criminal, but you would have stopped him from choosing you as a victim.
Continues next week.
– Sifu Lawrence Hochobeb is the Founder and Chief Instructor of Namibia Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy.