South Africa must start transitioning to cashless system to curb CIT heists

Cold Cases_ Mike Bolhuis.JPG

Cold Cases_ Mike Bolhuis.JPG

Published Feb 18, 2024


Even with the latest crime statistics showing a decline in cash-in-transit (CIT) heists in the country, moving to cashless transactions for businesses may be a better long-term solution, crime experts advise.

On Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele released the third-quarter crime stats for the 2023/24 financial year, for the period between October and December 2023, wherein he said the police strategy was helping to reduce CIT heists, kidnappings and extortion.

Cele said there were only 46 CIT robberies reported in the past three-month period, 11 fewer reported than the same period in the previous year.

The police minister said as many as 16 of the heists took place in Gauteng, 12 in the Eastern Cape and nine in KwaZulu-Natal.

Despite the positive outcome of police efforts, experts said there was an explosion in CIT heists, especially with Gauteng police admitting earlier that they were not ruling out the possibility of a new syndicate of robbers following a spate of CIT heists in the province.

Specialist investigator Mike Bolhuis said even with the reported declines in some crimes, it could not be dismissed that CIT, kidnappings and serious violent crimes had increased extensively particularly in January.

“I previously said we had a very quiet December. It was one of the best festive seasons with the least crimes committed, but January picked up very very badly with those specific crimes.

“The criminals commit these crimes because they can and do get away with it. It’s a well-oiled machine – its syndicates and gangs who have got their insiders, corrupt policemen they operate with, security guards and informants, it’s a whole network and it’s planned properly and they have the element of surprise.”

Bolhuis added that the police weren’t entirely at fault as there were other issues working against them, such as load shedding, which delayed the public’s efforts to reach out to them, and poor roads which only further delayed officers in getting to the scene or successfully apprehending criminals.

“The reality is that it is going to become increasingly difficult to move money around as you would need decoys, super bodyguards or staff working constantly checked with polygraphs, as cash movements are being monitored by criminals and they always get somebody involved.

“Physical money is something that should go in the near future as quickly as possible to make way for digital currency, because if businesses start seriously equipping their members it will only end up in extreme shoot-outs. Criminals simply don’t care where the bullets fly, they are inhumane and kill people to get the loot, but security and police are disadvantaged as they have to act by protocol,” he added.

Bolhuis said even though a transition to digital currency may be challenging, the reality was that as it stood CIT heists were not only negatively affecting businesses, but ordinary citizens too.

The Star

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