For The People

CIT heists plunge the country into crisis

Almost every other day, in full view of the public, a vehicle transporting money is robbed in broad daylight in urban and rural areas. “Two guards shot in cash-in-transit robbery”, “Policemen wounded in shootout with suspected cash-intransit robbers”, “Security guard killed”, “Two injured in cash-intransit robbery”- These are the types of headlines we are slowly getting used to as we go about our daily routines. CIT heists have reached epidemic levels and are being committed more frequently, with better precision and with more brutality. The lives of security guards are in constant danger with no clear plan from the authorities of stopping these attacks.

Fidelity Security Group CEO, Wahl Bartmann recently said that the current state of affairs is out of control and has become untenable. Bartmann is on record confirming that for 2018, 135 incidents have been reported. This is the highest number ever recorded for CIT heists over the same period. He further mentioned that only for April alone , Fidelity spent at least R4.5 million in back up and support to “secure resources and assets and most importantly, to protect staff.”

Bratmann went on to say that there was a need for the introduction of dedicated elite units that can be actively involved in intelligence gathering and resource deployment. The increasingly bold and vicious attacks are being reported and posted all over social media platforms by members of the public who are accidental witnesses. The brazenness of the robbers has left the authorities baffled because an increasing number of attacks are being carried out in CBD’s and urban areas with military precision and little regard for human life. A senior lecturer in forensic and criminal investigation science at UNISA, Dr Hennie Lochner, believes that the police have lost the fight against CIT heists. Lochner has done extensive research on the topic which is based on his interviews with convicted CIT robbers. According to Lochner the executions of these crimes have become advanced and the only way left for police to curb the heists is the use of informants.

Furthermore, he highlighted the alleged involvement of “people of the criminal justice system – be it police, lawyers, magistrates, prosecutors or metro police.” Dr. Lochner emphasized that the robbers responsible for CIT heists are the most daring and dangerous people in the country’s criminal underworld. The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has appealed to government’s law enforcement authorities, “to put special interventions in place to end the current scourge of violent CIT attacks proliferating across the country.” SABRIC wants the police to categorise CIT attacks as a priority crime, “ensuring systematic compilation of cases that are prosecutable by the NPA and establishing dedicated provincial CIT investigation teams.” The police made several arrests in April and May, but actions such as these does little to discourage robbers.

During a visit to the Crime Intelligence headquarters, Minister of Police, Bheki Cele identified CIT robberies, taxi violence, political killings and gangsterism as crimes that must be prioritized. The spate of high profile CIT heists has also attracted the attention of parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police. The portfolio committee has announced that it will host a special meeting on the issue, expected to commence on June 13th. Considering that CIT robberies are repetitive, violent in nature, and threatening to lives of the public, the security cluster and intelligence agencies should have made far better inroads in preventing these robberies.

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