Cash heists cost far more than the money stolen
Experts reveal how this SA scourge has consequences that make life far worse for all of us
The 10 biggest cash-in-transit heists in South Africa last year allegedly netted criminals a staggering R456-million.
This was revealed by Interpol’s South African TurnBack Crime ambassador, Andy Mashaile, on Tuesday. He was speaking at a panel discussion in Midrand, Johannesburg, on technology systems needed to defeat cash heist gangs.
Mashaile said that only R33-million of this R465-million had been recovered.
“This points to how much money these crime gangs are stealing, and how vital technology is in the fight against these crimes, especially when it comes to minimising deaths, injuries and losses.”Mashaile said that last year cash-in-transit companies transported R165-billion across South Africa, but could not give a figure of how much cash had been stolen in total.
Earlier this month South African Banking Risk Information Centre CEO Kalyani Pillay said there had been 140 heists in 2017 and that since January there had been 178 heists – just less than one a day – with 17 people killed and 93 injured.
The centre told parliament’s police portfolio committee in June that if the rate of heists continued, an estimated R470-million in cash would be lost by year-end through attacks on vans and personnel delivering money to businesses.
Economists warn the threat to South Africa is not just from the direct loss of cash, but also the indirect loss.Economist Mike Schussler said that for every rand in cash in circulation, at least 50c goes to its protection. “This equates to a huge amount of money being spent just on securing cash.”
He said the knock-on effect of such crimes on the economy was huge. “It’s not just the R470-million in cash which is at risk. You have to look at the bigger picture when it comes to how much actually goes into protecting money.”He said given the large number of South Africans who were “unbanked” and still worked on a cash system, those costs would continuously rise.
“The costs are made up of not just the physical guards who protect the money, but also rising insurance costs as well as improving technology which must go to the protection of cash vehicles and boxes. Then you have to look at things such as rising staffing costs from increased medical and life insurance for those who transport this money.
“That is just some of the cost and doesn’t include the cost when it comes to the impediment of doing business in the country, with investors turning to other countries to set up shop.”Economist Azar Jammine said the biggest effect of crimes such as heists is the loss of investment in South Africa.
“Although it’s not a direct cost it’s a huge blow to the economy. These crimes create perceptions that the country is crime-ridden and money is not safe here.
“While investors still invest in countries with high crime rates, in such countries investments take a negative turn.”Other effects included the emigration of skilled people.
“Sitting on two different private school boards and the board of the Independent Schools Association of South Africa, you can see the noticeable increase in the loss of pupils to immigration. These are pupils of fairly skilled people.“Studies show that one skilled person employs between 25 to 50 lesser skilled people, with the effect being a loss of jobs.”
Jammine said the increase in heists must be seen as a symptom of a broader problem with crime.
“While it is not necessarily the sole reason for emigration, it does play an important part in the loss of skilled people.”