About 60 victims of the 2016 FNB safety deposit box heists are suing the bank for R121 million in damages.
The victims are being represented by Trudie Broekmann Attorneys, who said on Tuesday (18 September) that there was reason to suspect that FNB employees colluded with criminals to execute the heists.
Two days before Christmas in 2016, a FNB branch in Randburg was targeted and hit by criminals, who escaped with over 200 safety deposit boxes containing various valuables of both monetary and sentimental value.
The group was then again hit by a second bank heist in the following month, with the SAPS reporting that R1.7 million had been stolen from the bank’s branch in Parktown.
According to reports around the time, it was said that the robbers in the Parktown branch breached the vault by breaking through an internal wall at the bank and they had 12-15 hours to do the heist.
There was reportedly only one untrained guard on duty, who was locked in his office.
Following the heists, FNB shut down its safe custody service, and started working out settlements with customers who lost items in the robberies. However, the bank was criticised by victims, who accused the bank of dragging its feet, shifting blame, and offering settlements at values well below what was lost.
Speaking to Talk Radio 702, Trudie Broekmann, owner of Trudie Broekmann Attorneys, said that losses suffered in the Randburg heist alone amounted to an estimated R200 million, where 360 safety deposit boxes were taken.
They are accusing the bank of gross negligence in the matter, saying that FNB’s employees colluded with the criminals in executing the crimes.
Specifically, new evidence has pointed to FNB employees not locking the vault as required, as well as managing to block alarms.
The terms of the contracts the victims held with the bank have also been criticised, whereby FNB said it takes no legal responsibility for any losses or damages to the goods it was supposed to be keeping secure. This, the attorneys said, undermines the entire point of the service.
FNB confirmed that it received the summons, and said it will defend the matter.
The bank said that the majority of its customers who were impacted by the burglaries accepted its settlement offers which were finalised in 2017.