/ 12 June 2018

‘We fear for our lives’: Cash-in-transit guards call for more protection

In Cape Town
In Cape Town

Hundreds of security guards working in the money transportation industry marched in major cities across South Africa on Tuesday after a spate of brazen heists that have rocked the industry and the country in recent months.

They are calling for more visible policing, increased reaction times to robberies and more effective intelligence gathering.

The scourge of cash-in-transit robberies reached a boiling point last week, with Police Minister Bheki Cele announcing new plans to bring down the well organised and heavily armed gangs carrying out the heists, which are robbing the country of millions of rands in cash.

In Johannesburg, cash-in-transit security employees handed over a memorandum listing their demands to the Department of Community Safety.

“The recent increasing attacks on our members in the cash-in-transit sectors compels us to bring the following demands to your attention,” the secretary general of Motor Transport Workers Union of South Africa, Mdumiseni Mabaso said.

“Without these workers, South Africa could not function and they need to be protected whilst performing their duties in such a crucial and important sector of the economy.”

Strike on the cards

They further called on the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to “deal harshly with convicted criminals” and ensure investigations were done properly to “minimise criminals walking free due to lack of evidence”.

“We will be monitoring the situation closely, and if we do not see any improvements or adherence to our demands within the next few months we will have to reserve our rights in terms of the labour laws, which could result in members withholding their labour,” Mabaso said.

The memorandum was accepted and signed by a representative from the department who promised workers that there would be a meeting with all stakeholders to deal with their demands.

READ MORE: Cele’s crime-fighting strategy: More boots on the ground

David Baloyi, a security guard employed by Fidelity, said they were in constant fear of being killed.

“Since the beginning of this year, we are being killed. The criminals are bombing us and it is putting our lives in danger,” he said.

“We have families that we have to live for. We fear for our lives and that is why we have come together today.”

When asked who may be behind the recent spike in the attacks, Ephraim Ralibona, who works for SBV, said: “I heard the investigators say some of those involved in the heists were some of their members (police), but we are not sure because they said some of the thugs who were involved were police officers and some of our colleagues.”

Colleagues killed

In Cape Town, Federation of Unions of SA general secretary Dennis George said cash-in-transit workers had been under a sustained attack since the beginning of the year.

“There have been 157 different incidents of cash-in-transit heists this year alone,” he said.

One driver, who had been driving for 30 years, said robbers who had wanted to exact revenge on him tracked him down at home.

“My wife was inside the house and heard the shot go off. I was outside at my car when they shot me,” he said. “They only got me in the leg.”

Another driver, Craig Nicholls, added: “Many of the guys that I have worked with for years are dead.”

More protection needed

Cash-in-transit employees also marched through Durban’s streets, calling for an end to the killing of their colleagues, and more protection from the police.

Themba Mbhele, who has worked with Fidelity Cash Solutions for 15 years, told News24 that he had eight children he had to take care of.

He said he was not afraid of dying, but of being broke.

“If I die, my family will be broke and nobody will take care of them and send them to school,” he said.

He said Cele “should get rid of corrupt policemen in the SAPS, and he must have an input in fighting the recent scourge of heists in our country”.

At a briefing on Wednesday last week, Cele said police had arrested 13 suspects connected to recent heists over a 24-hour period.

“Criminals have declared the war, so they must get ready to fight the war. All of the units are out of the barracks, all of the units are on the streets, we will be responding much quicker, and responding much more decisively,” he said. —  News24