The holiday season is officially upon us and many of us will receive stokvel lump sum returns and bonus cheques. It is also a high-risk period for criminal activity with stokvel-related robberies and thefts on the increase.
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), on behalf of the banking industry, warns bank clients always to remain alert when carrying cash.
Two crime types remain prevalent. In the first type, victims are followed out of a bank branch after a cash withdrawal has been made, which comprises the majority of cases. There are also incidences where people are followed after withdrawing money at an ATM. In both these cases, criminals follow the victim to their residence, place of work or any other place where it is easy to rob them. In the case of bank branches, “spotters” operate and communicate the victims’ description to accomplices, who wait outside the bank. Small business owners are also at risk, particularly when drawing cash to pay weekly wages.
In most robberies, robbers are armed and will resort to violence if the victim tries to resist.
While the banks don’t suffer the financial loss, they are nevertheless very concerned about the safety of their clients. In most robberies, robbers are armed and will resort to violence if the victim tries to resist. From 2017 to June 2018, SABRIC recorded eight fatalities and 26 injuries due to cash robberies.
Robberies are not limited to urban areas, but also occur in rural towns across South Africa. Gauteng showed the highest number of incidents (843) for 2017 at 58%, and was followed by KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, North West, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Free State and Northern Cape.
According to incidents reported to SABRIC between 2015 and January 2018, 52 stokvel robbery incidents were also reported.
Kalyani Pillay, the CEO of SABRIC, says, “It is very distressing that bank clients who are the victims of stokvel and associated robberies are often injured or even killed during these incidents, which is why we urge them to find safer ways to transact, such as internet transfers or mobile banking, instead of carrying large amounts of cash.”
Kalyani therefore urges bank clients to protect themselves, and reduce the risk of becoming a victim, by following the tips below:
It is important for stokvel clubs to adopt extra safety measures when withdrawing and sharing money to avoid becoming victims of crime.
Tips for stokvel groups
Tips for individuals
Tips for businesses