Robbing of clients at ATMs on the rise
KWAZULU-NATAL has the highest number of bank customers who are systematically fleeced off their hard-earned cash at ATMs.
The latest figures released by the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) show that ATM robberies in the province have increased by a record 90%, amounting to 61 incidents between January and August this year.
A total of 717 national robbery incidents were recorded from January to August, as compared to 793 for the same period last year in Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.
According to Sabric, Gauteng recorded a decline of 38% in 2012.
The financial losses to bank customers who have fallen victim to the systematic rip-off led by organised crime groups is estimated at R5-million in KwaZulu-Natal alone.
It is believed that other clients and bank cashiers are involved.
The organised criminal groups responsible for such robberies are said to be designate "spotters" that look-out for bank customers making cash withdrawals or deposits.
While this is a problem throughout the country, KwaZulu-Natal is among the provinces where this crime is highly prevalent.
Once the victims have been identified, the information is passed on to members of the group, usually in the vicinity of the bank, who will then rob the victims either at their place of residence, business or en route to their destination.
Senior operations manager at Sabric Ronnie Zonke said yesterday that a large proportion of robberies in KwaZulu-Natal, about 72%, happened after cash withdrawals.
Zonke said they were concerned about the increase in robberies in the province while the incidents were declining in other provinces.
"This suggests a possible displacement. Perpetrators are known to commit such robberies across provincial borders, hence Sabric and the banks work closely with the police in bringing these criminals to book," he said.
Zonke also acknowledged the role played by other stakeholders like Business Against Crime SA and the Consumer Goods Council of SA to combat the bank robberies.
He identified areas like Durban, Pinetown and Brighton Beach as some of the hottest spots in the province.
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonye Ngobeni said although they had had numerous successes in arresting the perpetrators, such robberies continued unabated. She said police were employing various strategies to mitigate the scourge. "We are convinced our efforts will be vindicated when the annual crime statistics are released."
Ngobeni revealed that two men suspected of such crimes were recently arrested in Durban and linked to 10 other cases following joint operations between the banks and police.