File picture: John Robinson/AP
JOHANNESBURG - The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) warns stokvel members to be wary of criminals this festive season as the organisation has seen a spike in robberies during this time of the year. Sabric said it would like to warn members of stokvel social clubs to be extra cautious when drawing money.

According to research company African Response, stokvels are big business and there are 8.6million people belonging to more then 421000 stokvels in South Africa, with a collective value of R25billion.

Sabric chief executive, Kalyani Pillay, said it is very distressing that bank clients, who are the victims of stokvel robberies are often injured or even killed during these incidents.

“Which is why we urge them to find safer ways to transact, such as internet transfers or mobile banking, instead of carrying large amounts of cash.”

Pillay said 53 stokvel robbery incidents were reported to Sabric between 2014 and December 15 this year, with 77 percent of incidents occurring during the festive season.

She said criminals are more likely to target members as the festive season approaches, as they know that members are being paid out for the holidays.

“In addition, criminals also know that people are winding down, and may not be as careful when carrying large amounts of cash.”

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) also warned stokvels clubs to be careful as criminals are targeting them this time of the year. IFP KZN provincial spokesperson on community safety and liaison, Blessed Gwala, said: “It is an undisputed fact that around this time of the year, stokvel clubs divide the money they have saved up among themselves. In recent years, members of such organisations have been targeted by criminals and they are therefore being urged to share their funds electronically instead of carrying large amounts of cash on them to prevent it being stolen.