Police crack down on heist syndicates

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Police Minister Bheki Cele has assured South Africans that they will be much safer following the arrest of 13 people allegedly involved in cash-in-transit heists in less than 24 hours.

“South Africans are going to be safe… We are going to work hard to ensure that we reverse this scourge [cash-in-transit heists],” Cele said.

He was addressing a media briefing on Wednesday in Centurion, where he told reporters that police will be responding quicker and decisively to cash-in-transit robberies.

In an effort to address crime in the country, police will focus on gangsterism, political killings, cash-in-transit heists and the kidnapping of women.

“We are working on cases that bring immediate fear in communities… Women and child abuse remains a priority,” he said.

The Minister said police in the Western Cape are making progress in the fight against crime.

“Operation Thunder is beginning to yield good results in the Western Cape. Some stations that are known to have high levels of killings, we have reduced that (sic). We have reduced the activities of gangsterism,” he said.

The National Commissioner of Police, General Khehla John Sitole, said there are two strategies that deal with tracing money taken from cash-in-transit heists.

“Most of the money is washed out through other means, such as the illicit economy… In order to track the money, we have designed the illicit economy combating strategy.

“With the strategy, we are tracing all money that is made in an illegal manner. We also run covert operations, which we do not disclose to the public,” Sitole said.

He said there is more than one syndicate involved in the cash-in-transit heists and police are investigating all of them.

According to Sitole, security companies are advised by the police on how they can mitigate the risk of cash-in-transit robberies.

“We encourage security companies to conduct lifestyle audits and thorough screenings of the security members. We also advise on the planning measures, including certain equipment that should mitigate the risk," he said.

South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) head of service delivery, Kevin Twiname, said an area of concern is the attack of vehicles in transit and the use of explosives to access the vaults on the vehicles.

“That has increased from 25 incidents last year to 71 incidents this year nationally. Of the 71 attacks on vehicles, 49 of those were total write offs. Those vehicles cost between R1.1 million and R1.4 million each. The loss alone on vehicles equates to about approximately R67 million,” he said.

Twiname could not disclose cash losses but said it runs into millions.

The provinces that are most affected by the cash in transit heists are Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, North West and the Free State, respectively.

South Africans were also encouraged to assist police in providing information that can help police to apprehend the cash-in-transit heists robbers. – SAnews.gov.za