1400 ATMs, 300 bank branches vandalised during the KZN and Gauteng unrest: Basa
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Over 1400 automatic teller machines (ATMs) and close to 300 bank branches and post office outlets have been vandalised in the ongoing violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, according to the Banking Association South Africa (Basa).
Banks were compelled to close over 1 300 branches between 12 and 14 July, said the association.
The unrest started in KZN and spread to Gauteng after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed for 15 months for contempt of court.
"While banks are still assessing the extent of the damage to vital social security and economic infrastructure, it is already clear that it will take many weeks before the hundreds of ATMs that have been destroyed can be returned to service, at significant cost," Basa said.
"Services have been further disrupted by the destruction of many retail outlets, which often also serve as cash points, especially in outlying areas. Despite the significant damage to their infrastructure, banks are providing cash and financial services to the affected areas," said the association.
Basa said 11,5 million South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) beneficiaries use ATMs and other points of sales devices to collect their child support, pensions, and other grants.
According to Basa, it is working with the retail industry, the post office, and other stakeholders to establish the extent of damage and destruction to bank branches, ATMs, retail stores, and other infrastructure where SASSA clients normally withdraw their grants.
"Once this data is in hand, we will set measures in place to meet the needs of SASSA clients. Wherever possible, branches are being returned to service, with most already opened in calmer areas. Banks are restoring financial services in part by providing mobile ATMs and cash points as it becomes safe to do so," it said.
Basa said there were no shortages of cash in KZN and Gauteng.
"Basa is confident that workers and state social security beneficiaries will be able to access their salaries and grants as they will be paid in the coming weeks."
The association also urged customers to use digital banking services, like pre-paid accounts and digital wallets which are available on cellphones and personal electronic devices.
Basa said banks were also supporting retailers who were already reopening shops that were looted and vandalised during the unrest.
"Basa supports government’s efforts to re-establish security and respect for the rule of law across South Africa by swiftly apprehending and prosecuting those guilty of vandalism, looting and damaging our national effort to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and to build an inclusive, growing economy."
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE