Minister of Police, Bheki Cele highlighted that businesses still operated in a danger zone. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN – The retail industry has commended the government and law enforcement for its efforts in ensuring a decline in business, bank and cash-in-transit (CIT) robberies, although the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele highlighted that businesses still operated in a danger zone.

Joint chief executive of Cash Connect Richard Phillips said although the latest crime stats showed an improvement, the reality was that South African businesses were still experiencing high crime levels.

“With 55 armed robbery attacks and 195 burglaries a day – this remains a huge concern, and begs for greater efforts by all concerned,” said Phillips on Thursday.

According to the Minister, non-residential robberies declined by 0.28 percent in the year to February from 20 047 to 19 991, while non-residential burglaries increased by 0.04 percent from 71 195 to 71 224.

The Consumer Goods Council of SA (CGCSA) confirmed that armed robbery attacks against their retail members over the same reported period, decreased by 12 percent compared to 2 272 in the previous period, while burglary attacks dropped by 13 percent.

“We are encouraged by the 23 percent drop in attacks against retail cash devices among the CGCSA retail members in the first eight months of this year,” said Phillips. 

Phillips applauded the 23 percent reduction in violent attacks against the CIT companies for the reported period, but noted that in the first eight months of this year, incidents of CIT robbery had escalated to an average of over eight incidents a week.

“This suggests that the justice cluster’s co-ordinated approach, as promised by the Minister last year, has not properly materialised. The CIT industry is a critical service provider to the economy and its performance has a direct impact on retailers across the country,” he said.

President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry Geoff Jacobs said the private sector was having to bear the costs of increased security to prevent simple robberies.

Jacobs, who was commenting after reports of petrol bombings of four trucks in the Western Cape. “This is akin to sabotage of the economic life of the Western Cape, but the wanton violence and barbarism that is increasingly associated with this criminal behaviour is a new and disturbing characteristic.”