online classief sites a new risk dangers rapeRecently there has been a number of reports about a woman who died after being gang raped after she applied for a job at a local Pick-n-Pay via Gumtree. Gumtree is the┬ámost popular online classified ad website in South Africa. When comparing it to Junkmail and using rankings you’ll notice they get┬ámore traffic than both of those combined.

Now to the case at hand, applying for jobs via classifieds. This is big business. It’s one of the few ways that newspapers still make money. It’s also the online service charged for by, the biggest online classified site on the Internet. This is not unusual or risky behaviour because looking through the classifieds for what you need, whether a job or a place to stay is part and parcel of our culture. It is a valuable service that used to be the mainstay of the print media, and now online has changed that forever. Online classifieds are free in most cases, easy and quick. You can also search from your cellphone as many have a mobi version like Gumtree.

When applying for jobs I’ve always gone through “legitimate” sources like recruitment agencies, LinkedIn and newspapers like Sunday Times. There has been times when I looked at jobs available on Gumtree and found it almost overwhelming. It is not easy to do quality control on this website because the volume of posting is so great. Sadly the outcome for this woman when applying for a job was rape and death.

It is clear this site was abused by people with an evil intent. Does this qualify as an invasion of her privacy or does it also point to some negligence in her own decision making processes? Only time will tell what the police uncover since they have opened a case to investigate this matter, as they should being the law enforcement our country so badly depends on with it’s high crime rates and murder statistics. All I know is that it reads like a very sophisticated syndicate of rapists in operation who will go as far as posting job adverts on an online classified website to lure their victims.

The same advice for first meetings from online dating sites would apply in the case of avoiding the same thing happening to you from contacting some for a job via Gumtree or any other online classified website:

  • Call them back on a landline (office) because a company that only has a cellphone is suspicious.
  • Look at their website to see what they do, and what they say about themselves.
  • Tell someone where you are going, and if you can take someone with.
  • Ensure the first meeting takes place in a public place where there is other people around.

What else can you do to keep safe when interacting with people via online classified sites like Gumtree, Junkmail or Vottle?