Cash in transit vans line along Beyers Naude square. Picture: MASI LOSI
Cash in transit vans line along Beyers Naude square. Picture: MASI LOSI

The country’s cash-in-transit (CIT) industry will launch an association that will co-ordinate efforts to counter the “unacceptably high” levels of violent attacks.

“We expect greater co-ordination will lead to standardisation in the training of personnel, better collaboration in sharing information relating to attacks and the methods used by crime syndicates, and faster co-ordination in response to attacks on vehicles across companies,” says SBV CEO Mark Barrett in an interview with Business Day.

This could also possibly lead to standardisation of “cross pavement” values. It’s the riskiest leg of the movement of cash and involves the value or amount of money personnel carry on foot from the vehicle to the client’s place of business.

According to SBV, 44% of all CIT attacks occur in this leg. While lower values are more advantageous from a loss perspective, it means more trips must be undertaken by personnel and that means vehicles remaining stationary for longer — which increases risk.

SBV will be one of three founding members alongside the industry’s two other largest companies, Fidelity and G4S. Each will contribute funds to establishing the association. Barrett says all companies active in the country will be welcome to join.

The number of attacks on CIT vehicles and personnel have been on a downward trend since October and November 2017 when more than 30 attacks were carried out. Explosives were also used for the first time to blast open vehicles, leading to more brazen attacks.

While there are no industry figures, SBV’s highlight the importance of the industry to the economy. Employing about 7,000 people, the company transports on average R1.1-trillion a year across its fleet of more than 1,100 vehicles.

“The design of our older generation cash-in-transit vehicles was primarily focused on protecting against ballistic attacks using high-powered weapons and did not in the earlier days fully consider the implications of explosives being used in CIT attacks,” says Barrett.

But better collaboration within the industry, as well as the appointment of Bheki Cele as minister of police in February 2018 (he was formerly police commissioner), saw attacks beginning to fall. In 2019, CIT attacks fell from 116 in 2018 to 90 in 2019, an improvement of 22%. 

“The minister of police and his leadership team held various meetings with the CIT companies in an effort to understand the challenges in CIT and to formulate a plan of action that relied heavily on collaboration to fight the CIT crime.”

But there is still much more work to do. On Monday alone, there were six separate attacks on CIT vehicles.

“We estimate that the vast majority of CIT attacks involve the use of explosives which are coming from various sources inside and outside our country,” say Barrett.

The company has begun testing a new version of armoured car capable of withstanding much greater ordinance.  

thompsonw@businesslive.co.za