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Additional unmarked police vehicles to be deployed in war against cash-in-transit robbers

Bheki Cele
Image: Esa Alexander

The SA Police Service is to deploy an additional 104 "unmarked" high-performance vehicles on the country's freeways as part of its latest strategy to combat the rise in cash-in-transit heists (CITs).

This was disclosed in Parliament on Wednesday by Police Minister Bheki Cele during a multi-stakeholder meeting convened by the National Assembly's police portfolio committee‚ which was called in response to the recent spike in (CITS) that have so far seen at least R114-million stolen from cash transport security firms.

At least 152 CITs have been reported this year alone and cash transporting firms project to lose at least R470-million through robberies should the current trend continue.

Responding to a range of questions on what the police were doing to tackle this crime‚ Cele said among other things‚ they have recently been forced to urgently procure 104 high-performance vehicles that would deployed on some of the country's busiest highways to tackle the robbers.

"We've had this spike that has made most of us here not to sleep…we've bought 104 high-performing cars like bread‚ because we needed them‚" said Cele.

"We're going to put them on the road‚ link them of quick responses…most of them are going to be unmarked and put them on the highway‚ link them all so that they respond simultaneously.

"We're also going to put high-performing individuals inside those vehicles so that as they (criminals) come on the scene‚ we win that scene."

Labour federation Cosatu has proposed that the Criminal Procedures Act should be amended to deny bail to people attacking members of the SAPS and security guards.

Matthew Parks‚ the parliamentary coordinator of Cosatu‚ said magistrates had too much discretion in this matter and often granted bail to repeat offenders.

Parks said Cosatu also wanted private ownership of guns completely banned‚ saying only those employed in the security environment should be allowed to own firearms.

"We think it's not strict enough that those who attack police officers and security officers are given bail…they must be denied bail‚ the must be no other option.

''If you're found guilty of an attack‚ (we propose a) minimum sentence of 10 years‚ if you're found guilty of murder (of a police officer)‚ minimum life sentence…we find that too much discretion being given to magistrates around this‚" said Parks.

Parks also called for working conditions of security guards transporting cash to be improved‚ saying currently only two guards manned one car. He said that should be increased to four and they should be armed with automatic rifles instead of pistols.

Parks' sentiments were echoed by Mdumiseni Mabaso‚ the secretary of the Motor Transport Workers Union of SA‚ which is affiliated to Cosatu rival Fedusa.

Mabaso said security guards working for cash transporting companies often operated in difficult circumstances.

"We need to ensure trauma counselling after heist attacks. I can tell you some of these employees after getting robbed‚ they are expected to get back on the road the next morning‚ without any counselling and that particular person is so stressed‚ has no concentration.

"That's why some of them upon seeing people‚ they think this person is just a robber and they start shooting.

"I can't‚ today if I have been involved in a robbery‚ expected to be back at work tomorrow morning."

Since the beginning of 2018, South Africa has seen a high number of cash-in-transit heists. Exactly how do these brazen gangs operate and manage to pull off a heist?

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