Big companies confirmed this week that many high-tech goods stolen during the recent riots in Durban have been blocked or blacklisted. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)
Big companies confirmed this week that many high-tech goods stolen during the recent riots in Durban have been blocked or blacklisted. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

Electronics looted during Durban unrest have been blocked and blacklisted

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Aug 28, 2021

Share this article:

Durban - Any tech bargains for sale on a second-hand site for a price which seems too good to be true may be looted goods and may no longer work.

That’s as big companies confirmed this week that many high-tech goods stolen during the recent riots in Durban have been blocked or blacklisted.

Samsung started the ball rolling with a statement confirming that Samsung South Africa has activated a Television Block Function on all Samsung TV sets which were stolen from one of their main warehouses in Cato Ridge.

The technology comes pre-loaded on all Samsung TV products which can connect to the internet and when activated, TV Block disables all functions on these sets.

It’s a remote security feature which ensures the televisions can only be used by the rightful owners with proof of purchase.

It detects if Samsung television sets have been unlawfully activated and when the user of the television connects to the internet, the serial number of the television is identified on the Samsung server which is followed by the blocking system being implemented.

Mike van Lier, director of consumer electronics, Samsung South Africa, said the company would continue to review the situation “to ensure business continuity for all”.

Both Vodacom and Cell C confirmed all stolen handsets have been blacklisted.

Cell C chief operations officer, Andre Ittmann said yesterday: “A bulk blacklisting was done on all identified stolen handsets and an assessment of these losses was conducted. Engagements are on the go with our insurers regarding the recovery of losses incurred.”

Vodacom said it was standard practice to blacklist stolen phones, adding “franchisees of the Vodacom stores which had been looted would have done this”.

Meanwhile the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) has confirmed close to R120 million in physical cash was stolen from ATMs and bank branches during the widespread looting, and that it has been “assessing the threats and quantifying the losses incurred by the banking industry because of the civil unrest”.

Sabric chief executive Nischal Mewalall said: “There is great concern over the impact of intelligence failures and the state’s response to the eight consecutive days of civil unrest that resulted in unprecedented destruction of banking infrastructure in South Africa.”

According to Sabric, in total 1 227 ATMs and 310 bank branches were vandalised or destroyed. Of the 1 227 ATMs, 256 were broken into using force, while 36 ATMs were physically stolen from their sites and have not yet been recovered. Over 80 branch safes were also breached.

“The theft of R119 400 243 in hard cash is very concerning. Not all notes are dye-stained and millions in unsoiled notes will be injected back into the economy. This money is the proceeds of crime and there is now a war chest available to fund more organised crime, to corrupt more officials and to promote more lawlessness,” said Mewalall.

Sabric has urged all businesses to be stringent in cash threshold reporting, to not engage in any suspicious transaction and to report unusual or suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Centre.

Independent on Saturday

Share this article: