R21 million has been stolen from cash-carrying South Africans this year – here’s how to avoid being a victim

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric), has warned people to be vigilant when withdrawing or carrying cash around, saying that the risk of being targeted by criminals is always there, despite the number incidents in 2018 declining.

According to Sabric, bank client cash losses for 2018 from January to June amounted to just over R21 million, which was a decrease of 5% from the same period in 2017. Over the period there was a 33% decrease in incidents when compared to the same period in 2017, with 478 and 709 incidents respectively.

Two crime types remain prevalent; victims are followed out of a bank branch after a cash withdrawal has been made, which comprises the majority of cases, and then incidences where they are followed after withdrawing money at an ATM.

In both these cases, criminals follow the victim to their residence, place of work or any other place where it is easy to rob them. In the case of bank branches, ‘spotters’ still operate and communicate the victims’ description to accomplices who wait outside the bank, Sabric said.

Small business owners are also at risk, particularly when drawing cash to pay weekly wages.

“While the banks don’t suffer the financial loss, they are nevertheless very concerned about the safety of their clients. In most robberies, robbers are armed and will resort to violence if the victim tries to resist. From 2017 to June 2018, Sabric recorded 8 fatalities and 26 injuries due to cash robberies,” it said.

Associated robberies are not limited to urban areas, but also occur in rural towns across South Africa.

Gauteng showed the highest number of incidents (843) for 2017 at 58%, and was followed by KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, North West, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Free State and Northern Cape.

According to incidents reported to Sabric between 2015 and January 2018, 52 stokvel robbery incidents were also reported.

Kalyani Pillay, CEO of Sabric said: “It is very distressing that bank clients, who are the victims of stokvel and associated robberies are often injured or even killed during these incidents, which is why we urge them to find safer ways to transact, such as internet transfers or mobile banking, instead of carrying large amounts of cash”.

Sabric urged bank clients to protect themselves, and reduce the risk of becoming a victim by following the tips below:

Tips for Individuals

  • Carry as little cash as possible.
  • Consider the convenience of paying your accounts electronically (consult your bank to find out about other available options).
  • Consider making use of cell phone banking or internet transfers or ATMs to do your banking.
  • Never make your bank visits public, even to people close to you.

Tips for Businesses

  • Vary the days and times on which you deposit cash.
  • Never make your bank visits public, even to people close to you.
  • Do not openly display the money you are depositing while you are standing in the bank queue.
  • Avoid carrying moneybags, briefcases or openly displaying your deposit receipt book.
  • It is advisable to identify another branch nearby you that you can visit to ensure that your banking pattern is not easily recognisable or detected.
  • If the amount of cash you are regularly depositing is increasing as your business grows, consider using the services of a cash management company.
  • Refrain from giving wages to your contract or casual labourers in full view of the public; rather make use of wage accounts that can be provided by your bank.
  • Consider arranging for electronic transfers of wages to contract or casual labourers’ personal bank accounts.

Tips for Stokvel Groupings

  • Refrain from making cash deposits of club members’ contributions on high-risk days (e.g. Monday after month end).
  • Ensure persons depositing club cash contributions or making withdrawals are accompanied by another club member.
  • A Stokvel savings club or burial society can arrange for members to deposit cash directly into the club’s account instead of collecting cash contributions.
  • Arrange for the club’s pay out to be electronically transferred into each club member’s personal account or accounts of their choice.
  • Take another person with when going to deposit club cash contributions.

Read: There have been 135 cash-in-transit incidents already in 2018

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