Banks plan to go after cash stolen during July unrest

'War chest' available to fund more crime, corruption and lawlessness: Sabric

A Nedbank ATM destroyed at Diepkloof Mall in Soweto. Sabric warns: '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.' File photo.
A Nedbank ATM destroyed at Diepkloof Mall in Soweto. Sabric warns: '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.' File photo.
Image: Alon Skuy

The chase is on to apprehend those with hard cash stolen during the civil unrest last month.

Tallying up the costs of the looting spree between July 9 and 17, SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) CEO Nischal Mewalall said: “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.”

Sabric said 1,227 ATMs and 310 bank branches were vandalised or destroyed in the unrest.

Of the ATMs, 256 were broken into using force and 36 physically stolen from their sites, which have not yet been recovered. In addition, 82 in-branch safes were breached.

Cash stolen from ATMs and bank branches totalled R119.4m. This amount excludes 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,” said Mewalall.

The effectiveness of anti-money laundering initiatives and efforts to counter the financing of the “terrorism regime” will be critical in detecting the individuals behind these crimes, he said.

Sabric urged businesses to be stringent about cash threshold reporting, to not engage in facilitating suspicious transactions and to immediately report any suspicious and unusual transactions to the Financial Intelligence Centre.

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