Cash-in-transit heists will lead to cash losses of R470m this year if the current trend continues, the Portfolio Committee on Police heard on Wednesday.
The meeting brought together a range of stakeholders concerned with cash-in-transit heists, including the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric).
Forty-nine vehicles have been lost so far this year, at a cost of R64m to the industry, according to Sabric’s presentation to the committee.
According to Sabric’s statistics, injuries suffered by cash-in-transit guards rose by 82% this year with 62 guards injured. Civilian casualties rose by 200% after two civilians died this year, and perpetrator fatalities rose by 300%. Five guards have been killed, while eight perpetrators were killed and three injured.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said cash-in-transit heists were a form of terrorism. He said he refuses to “co-govern with criminals”.
Cele was frank about the police’s shortcomings and insisted that this was being turned around, albeit, as Cele put it, this was akin to “fixing a flying Boeing”.
“There are some of us who are really corrupt,” Cele said of members of the police service.
“We all know what happened to Crime Intelligence,” Cele said, with reference to the shambles this police unit has been left in since the reign of Richard Mdluli.
“We all know what happened to the Hawks,” Cele said.
He added that at some point, the crime busters had investigated a case of a R12 cupcake.
Since then a new head of Crime Intelligence, Major General Peter Jacobs, and a new Hawks boss, advocate Godfrey Lebeya, have been appointed.
“We hope advocate Lebeya will deal with those matters and make the Hawks, hawks,” he said.
He said if not he would be pushed and told “you’re not an owl, you’re a hawk”.
Currency protection devices
Cele also said that the police bought 104 high-performance vehicles. Most of the vehicles will be unmarked.
“We’ll put them on the highway. We’ll put high-performing individuals in these cars,” he said.
The entities at the meeting included the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority, the South African Reserve Bank, Sabric, the three major cash-in-transit companies SBV, G4S and Fidelity, trade union federation Cosatu, the Motor Transport Workers’ Union and Business Against Crime South Africa.
There was a general consensus that regulations for the cash-in-transit industry should be tightened.
SARB deputy governor Francois Groepe said the bank was a statutory creature and that it was not mandated to regulate.
He said the incentive for criminals to conduct these heists should be removed by utilising currency protection devices that deface bank notes with dye stains.
SARB spends millions testing these devices. To date, they have not received any requests to use the dye stain devices in cash-in-transit vehicles, he said.
The unions complained about the conditions under which guards work, one of their concerns being the fact some companies only had two guards in each vehicle.
The companies said they were implementing several measures to safeguard against heists. The three biggest companies, G4S, Fidelity and SBV, work together and have a joint operational control centre with the police.