BLASTED: We need to work together to stop cash-in-transit heists, says Yusuf Abramjee. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
There have been more than 160 attacks on cash vans across South Africa this year. This figure includes “cross-pavement robberies” and we’ve seen a dramatic increase in cash-in-transit (CIT) robberies on roads where vans are blown up.

This week, alone, there were at least five attacks on vehicles. Robbers made off with cash in two attacks.

We cannot ignore the fact that CIT crimes are well planned and that these attacks are executed by skilled individuals who are part of organised- crime syndicates.

CIT operators cannot solve this problem on their own. However, they need to move at speed and use technology and innovation to stop these attacks.

I’ve had insight into some of the ways of curbing these robberies and it’s good to see some companies using the technology, produced locally.

Solving these crimes requires a collaborative effort between the SAPS, the SA Banking Risk Information Council (Sabric) the various labour unions, all CIT service providers, the business sector, the public and other stakeholders of the cash services industry.

Leading CIT company, SBV Security, says: “We are extremely pleased that the various roleplayers have already started to make their voices heard and are appealing for standardisation and a collective effort to fight cash-in-transit crime.”

Recently, unions hosted a protest involving all the major CIT service providers.

SBV was in full support of the cry by unions for the regulation and institution of minimum standards for the industry.

Last month, SBV Services, G4S and Fidelity met in Parliament with the portfolio police committee and, together with Police Minister Bheki Cele, the Deputy Governor of the SA Reserve Bank, Sabric, unions and various other stakeholders in the cash-handling industry.

All stakeholders agreed to collaboratively improve security, regulatory and operational standards for the industry and to work together to mitigate CIT crime.

Some companies have dedicated teams that specialise in technology and innovation.

Vehicle technology, for example, is advanced and SBV is constantly changing and adapting the technology on its vehicles, and makes significant investments in various security measures to protect its employees.

The manufacture and design of the fleet “is exceptionally executed and continuously re-engineered to resemble military-type vehicles”, SBV says.

“These vehicles have increasingly advanced on-board security systems such as one-time codes, vault protection systems and live feed cameras, all of which lower risk and act as deterrents to attacks and theft.

“A specialised fleet management team is extremely agile and able to adapt vehicle specifications to mitigate risk.”

Yes, these robberies are well-planned and executed with military-style planning and precision.

Thanks to technology developed by the CSIR some years ago, security companies are able to reduce attacks on their vans.

This innovation involves the installation of a polyurethane dispensing unit (the Pudu), which is essentially a sense-and-deploy device that dispenses quick-drying and solidifying polyurethane foam into the vault area of CIT vehicles when they are attacked.

The polyurethane covers the cash in the vehicle’s vault and makes it impossible for attackers to retrieve the transported assets from the vehicle.

“The Pudu has been designed and developed for use in modular armoured vehicles, as well as the multi-purpose vehicles that are used in the cash-in-transit industry.

“Its primary purpose is to protect the assets in the vault area of the vehicle in the case of a heist.

“It can be activated by different methods, depending on the client’s needs and risk exposure.

“It has been tested in the field and has a proven track record in safeguarding assets during cash-in-transit heists, leading to asset recovery and a significant reduction in actual attack,” says the CSIR.

It’s a pity only some companies are using this technology.

It should be compulsory for all companies to have it on all vehicles.

Perhaps government and the industry needs to review the minimum standard required - even if it means we have to have laws in place.

We know that staining-cash technology is also available in South Africa, and it is effective especially for cross-pavement robberies.

I recently visited All Cash, a company based in Kyalami, that specialises in safety and security technology.

The products are manufactured locally.

It’s time we focused on #CITSolutions and it’s time for all companies to introduce these measures as a matter of urgency.

The police have made some arrests recently for CIT robberies, but we need many more.

We need the kingpins also behind bars.

The police need to sustain visibility and ensure they respond with speed, like we saw in some recent incidents.

The public has a role to play and we must increasingly start blowing the whistle on these criminals.

Someone, somewhere, somehow knows something!

The Namola/Dial Direct Safety App can also be used to make tip-offs anonymously.

We saw another police officer arrested recently for her alleged support of her cash-heist robber boyfriend.

The SANDF confirmed in Parliament, through the Minister, that some weapons seized from a CIT robbery belonged to the Defence Force. This is very worrying.

The rate cash vans are being attacked in South Africa is also making news abroad.

Various international agencies have been reporting on it. It’s affecting our country’s image. It’s affecting our economy.

Let’s continue to unite and fight this scourge. Let’s start moving at speed to get the necessary security measures in place to stop CIT robberies.

* Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activist and head of #MakeSASafe. He partnered with SBV Security recently as a consultant.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus