OPINION PIECE: The Star/IOL
#MakeMoneySafe #MakePeopleSafe #MakeSASafe
Johannesburg – Cash-in-transit (CIT) robberies have increased dramatically over the past year.
There is no doubt there will be at least one more CIT robbery over the next few days, judging by the trend over recent months. It seems defeatist to say so, but if you take into account the latest CIT robbery statistics, it’s inevitable.
Figures made available by the South African Banking Risk Information Council (Sabric) show that there were 378 robberies in 2017.
In 2016, 268 cash vans were attacked during the same period. This reflects an increase of 41% year on year.
So far this year, “Vehicle on Road” incidents – those are the attacks on security armoured vehicles that share highways and rural roads with innocent bystanders – have nearly quadrupled from nine during the same period in 2017 to 34 attacks.
Over pavement robberies” are on the up. Over recent days there were more attacks. Last Saturday, there were four robberies in one day. A woman was hit by a stray bullet while driving near a CIT robbery in Akasia, north of Pretoria. She succumbed to her injuries.
The gang made off with the money after blowing the cash van open with explosives. It burst into flames minutes later.
Viral videos show how members of the public ran to the vehicle picking up the cash left behind by the gang.
A jogger posted a photo with some cash shortly afterwards saying his morning jog was “productive”.
Footage shows how brazen and dangerous these gangs are. The modus operandi is the same in most attacks.
When we report that a particular crime has “more than quadrupled” since the same period in the previous year, it’s time to sit up and take notice.
It means criminals have figured out how to beat the system and they know this is a low risk, high reward crime.
Not only are the attacks increasing in number, but the level of violence is increasing, too. In the majority of incidents, commercial explosives are used. The robbers are heavily armed and they open fire easily. AK47s, R4 and R5 rifles are used.
Gangs of up to 20 members attack in broad daylight, using stolen or hijacked vehicles, and they strike with military precision. The recent spate of attacks reminds me of what we saw in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The Bronkhorstspruit, Marble Hall and other multi-million rand robberies made national headlines and the name of the late Collen Chauke, one of South Africa’s most criminal masterminds, became synonymous with CIT heists.
South Africans can prevent, or at least curtail, CIT crimes – but first we need to get to grips with the problem.
For too long we’ve simply watched these brazen attacks take place. It’s always the same routine – a violent attack on our roads, maybe precious lives are lost, money is stolen, we write about it, we tweet about it, sometimes we might even take a video, but then we continue with our lives.
But I’m heartened to hear the whispers of an outcry. It’s time to admit we have a serious problem with CIT robberies. The answer? Urgent collaboration by all roleplayers.
We need to see increased collaboration between the South African Police Service (SAPS), G4S, Fidelity, SBV Security and all other stakeholders for viable solutions.
I recently partnered with SBV to help drive the conversation around Cash in Transit attacks – it’s time to make CIT a priority crime.
Some of suggestions include:
Getting the Hawks to investigate all CIT robbery cases.
Beefing up Police Crime Intelligence.
Security companies taking extra precautions.
Encouraging the public to blow the whistle on the criminals.
Retailers taking steps to protect their cash and customers.
We need stronger calls for action, and it starts now. Let’s not see the numbers of deaths quadruple before we take action. We have a national crime emergency. Drastic times need drastic action.
Experts say ex-convicts are believed to be behind a series of attacks. Others says policemen may be involved and inside information contributes to robberies.
Last week, a member of the SANDF was arrested in Limpopo after police intercepted a gang. A luxury VIP Defence Force car and firearms were seized. When those who ought to be protecting us get involved in crime, we have a serious problem.
The time has come to #MakeMoneySafe.
* Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activist and is Head: #MakeSASafe. He is also Chief Ambassador for the Namola Safety App. Twitter: @abramjee