At least 1,227 ATMs and 310 bank branches were vandalised or destroyed during the recent unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa, which occurred between 9 and 17 July. And over R119-million in cash was stolen, it was confirmed by the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) today.
SABRIC, which has been assessing the damage, said of the 1227 ATMs, 256 ATMs were breached (broken into using force) and 36 ATMs were physically stolen from their sites which have not been recovered to date. In addition, 82 in-branch safes were also breached.
Physical cash stolen from ATMs and bank branches amount to R119,400,243 to date. This amount excludes all further infrastructure damage and replacement costs. SABRIC CEO Nischal Mewalall said:
“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.”
The effectiveness of South Africa’s anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime will be critical in detecting the individuals behind these crimes.
SABRIC is urging 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.
SABRIC, an NGO, also raised concern over the government’s delayed response to the civil unrest, which saw a breakdown in the rule of law that resulted in loss of life and jobs, as well as the widespread theft and destruction of infrastructure. CEO 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.”