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The Cape of heists

The incidence of cash-in-transit heists has increased dramatically in Cape Town, but police are still unable to provide statistics revealing the magnitude of the problem.

Police sources have said they are concerned about the increase in heists — which usually peak later in the year, around December — in the past six months.

”It was never like this before in Cape Town,” one officer told the Mail & Guardian. ”Cash-in-transit heists were few and far between. Now they are a regular occurrence and every Tom, Dick and Harry is doing one. We need answers.”

Last week two cash-in-transit guards sustained severe head injuries when they were attacked by a gang which robbed them at Capricorn Park shopping centre near Muizenberg. The gang assaulted the three guards in the vehicle, according to police, stealing an ”undisclosed amount”. Two cash-delivery security guards, Gcinikhaya Mxatule (28) and Bhekuyise Dobo (35), appeared in court this week in connection with the heist.

In June a security guard was killed in an attempted cash-in-transit heist in Du Noon and a security guard and a bystander were killed in another heist in Khayelitsha.

Western Cape police spokesperson Billy Jones conceded that there had been a ”concerning number” of cash-in-transit incidents in Cape Town since the beginning of this year, especially in April and May. He declined to speculate on reasons for the increase, saying ”detectives are still busy with their investigations, and some of them are very sensitive investigations”.

Crime statistics would first have to be released by Nathi Mthethwa, the minister of police, Jones said.

Mthethwa’s office has said the crime statistics will only be released next month.

Meanwhile, police sources have spoken to the M&G about compelling evidence they have gathered about who might be behind the heists and their fury at what they see as inaction in their department. A few months ago a dossier was handed to Cape Town’s crime war room, which coordinates information from police stations about cases and arrests made in connection with serious and violent crimes.

A month ago police requested that the M&G refrain from reporting on the concerns of the police officers, saying it could jeopardise their investigation. This week Jones repeated the request.

But police sources told the M&G urgent action was required, as people were being seriously injured and killed in the cash-in-transit heists, and skilled operatives were carrying out the crimes.

Jackson Madzima, a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Cape Town, said there was some ”indication that most, if not all, cash-in-transit heists are executed with a level of precision that would be possible only with potent inside information, as well as information on the possible deployment and location of police on patrol”.

He said ”such information can come only from bank and security officials, as well as strategically informed law enforcement sources”. Cash-in-transit perpetrators ”exhibit the coordination and precision suggesting that they are well trained in combat”, he said.

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Glynnis Underhill
Glynnis Underhill has been in journalism for more years than she cares to remember. She loves a good story as much now as she did when she first started. The only difference is today she hopes she is giving something back to the country.

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