Please take your cash
(Getty)
  • At least 1,227 ATMs and 310 bank branches fell victim to the unrest which swept across parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in mid-July.
  • Almost R120 million in physical cash was looted in eight days, according to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre.
  • Almost 40 ATMs were physically stolen from their sites and 82 in-branch safes were also breached.
  • And some of this stolen cash could be used to finance organised crime.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Almost R120 million in hard cash was looted from ATMs and banks during the bout of civil unrest which swept across parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in mid-July. This amount is much higher than initial estimates and doesn’t include the cost of repairs.

At least 1,227 ATMs and 310 bank branches were vandalised or destroyed between 9 and 17 July, during a period of violent looting which left hundreds of shops in ruins and more than 300 people dead. This is according to the latest count by the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric), which has detailed the dire consequences of the “unprecedented destruction” of banking infrastructure.

“Not all notes are dye-stained and millions in unsoiled notes will be injected back into the economy,” said Sabric CEO Nischal Mewalall.

“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.”

Sabric estimates that R119,400,243 in physical cash was looted from ATMs and in-branch safes. The Banking Association South Africa (Basa) initially estimated these cash losses to be around R20 million.

Of the 1,227 ATMs damaged during the unrest, 256 were broken into by force and 36 were physically stolen from their sites. At least 82 in-branch safes were also breached, according to Sabric.

Losses incurred by the banking sector extend far beyond the theft of physical cash. It costs approximately R385,000 to replace an ATM – which excludes installation costs – according to Basa. Replacing the 36 ATMs which were stolen from their sites will cost at least R13.8 million.

If all breached ATMs need to be replaced entirely, this pushes the cost to replace damaged infrastructure beyond R100 million, almost equalling the value of cash stolen from machines and in-branch safes.

Mewalall has urged businesses to be more stringent about cash threshold reporting in terms of section 28 of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) Act. This clause, intended to combat money laundering, requires that cash payments of R25,000 and above be reported to the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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