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Nedbank ATMs destroyed during the looting in Diepkloof mall, Soweto. Picture: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN
Nedbank ATMs destroyed during the looting in Diepkloof mall, Soweto. Picture: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN

Damage to banks and ATMs during July's violence and looting will cost up to R1.5bn to repair, the Banking Association SA (Basa) said on Saturday.

Banks are still working on infrastructure recovery plans in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, the association said in a statement, adding that 1,400 ATMs and 269 bank branches were vandalised or destroyed.

“An indicative average replacement cost of an ATM in SA is R385,000, with additional installation costs,” Basa said.

“These costs can vary greatly for any individual ATM and not every vandalised ATM will need to be replaced.

“Banks will likely have to rebuild almost 200 branches. At this time the average indicative cost for rebuilding a branch is estimated to be R4.3m. There will also be additional operational costs to get a branch back into full service.”

Despite the shortage of functional branches and ATMs, no major incidents were reported in the distribution of social security grants or payment of salaries at the beginning of the month. 

According to the statement, banks and their partners ensured there were ATMs and cashpoints even in areas where banking and retail infrastructure had been devastated.

“Cash-in-transit companies were able to ensure that cash was available wherever it was needed. There was noticeable demand for grant payments at pay-points where retailers were able to restore their operations and provide essential goods.

“To assist social grant recipients and those who live in areas where ATMs and branches have been destroyed, bank customers have been able to use any ATM, including those not operated by their own bank, without incurring additional charges, since Aug. 1 until September 30.

“This resulted in grant recipients making wider use of ATMs and reduced pressure on individual cashpoints.”

Basa said banks were working with the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) on the reintroduction of the R350 Covid-19 social relief of distress grant.

The statement said Sassa was encouraging beneficiaries to open bank accounts so that they can receive their grants directly.

“Full recovery of physical bank infrastructure will take a while and banks are encouraging their customers to use digital banking platforms to access their products and services.

“Banks have begun detailing the relief they can offer to individual businesses and customers who are in financial distress because of the damage and looting.

Customers who were in good standing before the unrest should contact their banks as soon as possible to see how they may best be assisted,” Basa said.