Following a spate of high profile cash-in-transit (CIT) heists across the country, the National Assembly Portfolio Committee on Police has announced that it will host a special meeting on the issue on 13 June.
Key players in the private security industry have welcomed the planned meeting, with Fidelity Security Group CEO, Wahl Bartmann stating that the situation is completely out of control and has become unsustainable.
“In spite of the efforts to work more diligently with the authorities and other stakeholders, the number of attacks continues to rise across the industry with a record high of 135 incidents being reported this year,” he said
“Last month alone Fidelity spent in excess of R4.5 million in back up and support to secure resources and assets and most importantly, to protect staff.”
Bartmann added that it has been reported that these incidents are being carried out by approximately 200 robbers and that the criminals have become increasingly brazen in their attacks.
“We are fighting a silent war which is starting to spill over into civilian areas as well,” he said.
Bartmann also cited Dr Hennie Lochner, a senior lecturer in forensic and criminal investigation science at Unisa in Pretoria, who has completed extensive research interviewing 21 convicted robbers, who believes that police have lost the fight against heists.
“He said robbers were too advanced in executing these crimes, leaving the police with the use of informants as the only means of curbing them,” Bartmann said, referring to Lochner.
“The gravity of the situation becomes even more obvious when there are reports that in every heist, there are always allegedly people of the criminal justice system involved – be it police, lawyers, magistrates, prosecutors or metro police.
“Sabric (The South African Banking Risk Information Centre) has urged government, and particularly law enforcement authorities, to put special interventions in place to end the current scourge of violent CIT attacks proliferating across the country,” he said.
“This includes treating CIT attacks a priority crime, ensuring systematic compilation of cases that are prosecutable by the NPA and establishing dedicated provincial CIT investigation teams.”
Bartmann said that there was need for the introduction of dedicated elite units that can be actively involved in intelligence gathering and resource deployment.
“This would support Lochner’s view when he says CIT robbers are the most dangerous people in the South African criminal underworld,” he said.