With approximately R130 billion cash in circulation in South Africa, a lot is at stake with crime syndicates eyeing the rich bounty, Zululand Observer reports.
The role of the cash-in-transit industry in securing and transporting the cash between the South African Reserve Bank and the consumer is of national strategic importance to the economy.
But the sector is quite literally under the gun with CIT crimes having risen by 39% last year, according to Institute for Security Studies (ISS) senior researcher Dr Johan Burger.
In Zululand this year alone, armed gangs snatched R800 000 on the highway between Ulundi and Nongoma while two other heists occured during money transfers at ATMs in Empangeni and Mtubatuba.
“During the early 1990s cash was transported in metal boxes that were secured with Tyden seals. They provided no real cross pavement defence. What’s more, guards were only issued with .38 revolvers,” said Burger.
“Attacks against armoured cars and cross pavement carriers escalated to unprecedented levels averaging over two attacks a day then translating this to between 700 and 800 attacks a year.”
While robberies soared, the cost of CIT services over the past 15 years dropped.
“In my view, the greatest threat to the industry has been the persistent assault on service pricing,” said Cash Connect Management Solutions CEO Richard Phillips.
“In 1999 service rates varied between R115 to R170 per service. Today rates ranging from anywhere between R90 and R107 per service are the order of the day. This translates to an overall loss of anywhere between 22% and 37% in primary operating revenue driven by unrelenting market pressure – and this against a concomitant inflationary growth in cost of 87% over the past 10 years.
“The cash-in-transit industry is the very artery of our economy and if, for whatever reason, it was brought to a halt, the economy would be throttled.
“Minimum service fees should be a matter of legislation and there is a pressing need for crime intelligence, the police and the justice cluster need to prioritise bank, CIT crime and establish close cooperation with the industry to ensure that syndicated and organised crime in this space is contained.”
– Caxton News Service