Faizel Patel – 18/08/2021
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) says almost R120 million in cash was looted from ATMs and banks during the deadly unrest which swept across parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in mid-July.
Sabric has been assessing the threats and quantifying the losses incurred by the banking industry because of the civil unrest, which it says, caused “unprecedented destruction” of banking infrastructure.
Sabric says the civil unrest characterized as a “failed insurrection” also saw a breakdown in the rule of law that resulted in loss of life and jobs.
It says at least 1,227 ATMs and 310 bank branches were vandalised or destroyed between 9 and 17 July, during a period of violent looting which left hundreds of shops in ruins and more than 300 people dead.
According to Sabric, of the 1,227 ATMs damaged during the unrest, 256 were broken into by force and 36 were physically stolen from their sites while at least 82 in-branch safes were also breached.
Sabric CEO Nischal Mewalall says the level of destruction is shocking
“There is great concern over the impact of intelligence failures and the state’s response to the eight consecutive days of civil unrest that resulted in unprecedented destruction of banking infrastructure in South Africa.”
Mewalall says physical cash stolen from ATMs and bank branches amount to almost R120 million to date and excludes all further infrastructure damage and replacement costs.
“The theft of R119 400 243 in hard cash is very concerning. Not all notes are dye-stained and millions in unsoiled notes will be injected back into the economy. This money is the proceeds of crime and there is now a war chest available to fund more organised crime, to corrupt more officials and to promote lawlessness.”
Mewalall says the effectiveness of South Africa’s anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime will be critical in detecting the individuals behind these crimes.