Editorials 14.6.2018 08:50 am

Cash guards can’t be equally armed to robbers

Cash in transit Security officers at Beyers Naude Square in Johannesburg, 12 June 2018, during the major cities march over the killing of colleague in armed cash in - transit heists. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

Cash in transit Security officers at Beyers Naude Square in Johannesburg, 12 June 2018, during the major cities march over the killing of colleague in armed cash in - transit heists. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

This might escalate the situation to the point where we have shoot-outs in our streets with machine guns. And we don’t want that …

You have to feel sympathy for security guards transporting cash around the country: when they go to work each day, they don’t know whether they will be coming home alive.

The spate of cash-in-transit heists has become the most serious ongoing act of criminality in the country. That is a sweeping statement, but considering the millions of rands carried by each armoured delivery truck, and the violence with which robbers set about terrorising guards and civilians, we believe it is accurate.

Cash-in-transit robberies are a symptom of a society where law and order is breaking down. Protesting security guards this week told us how they fear for their lives when they come up against well-armed robbers, because the guards often only have handguns or semi-automatic rifles, while heist gangs often carry military assault rifles and explosives.

It is a brave person indeed who would go up against these people who, clearly, are highly experienced and coordinated and have top class intelligence systems of their own. The gangs are, apart from their choice of weapons, effectively military units. And having military units running around the country able to carry out “missions” at will should be something that should worry our government … cash robber today, armed revolutionary tomorrow?

Clearly, some of the attacks are carried out with help from inside – or using information from disgruntled ex-security guards. That means our police investigators – and especially crime intelligence units – must step up their game and find out what is going on.

At the same time, we do not believe it would be a good idea to offer security guards parity in weaponry, because this, we believe, might escalate the situation to the point where we have shoot-outs in our streets with machine guns. And we don’t want that …

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