The Post Office. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
The Post Office. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Post Office hit by spate of armed robberies, no security for money kept at branches

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Oct 13, 2020

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Cape Town - The South African Post Office has said armed robberies and burglaries are some of the biggest challenges faced by the entity as it paid out social security grants to beneficiaries during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some of the post office branches that keep cash overnight still don't have time-delay devices that spray dye and render banknotes useless during burglaries.

Briefing the communications portfolio committee on Tuesday, acting CEO Reneilwe Langa said: "As reflected in the slides, the main challenges being armed robberies and burglaries".

Langa's report showed that there were 17 armed robberies, 21 burglaries and two cash-in-transit heists during August.

"Security and investigations have rated branches accordingly and deployed security guarding in line with that.

"At cash paypoints, Fidelity is to increase vigilance and act on intelligence information received," read the report.

Langa told MPs that SAPO was working with SAPS and law enforcement agencies to address the armed robberies and cash-in transit heists.

She also said damages were caused to buildings that have been burgled.

"With respect to damage done to buildings that were being burgled, we are working with the property portfolio in order to make sure those buildings have been repaired," she said.

Acting COO Refilwe Kekana told MPs there were different levels of security at post office branches.

Kekana said in terms of physical security at branches SAPO contracted security companies depending on the provinces they were located in and that they were assisted by the South African Social Security Agency.

He also said they have time-delay devices that dyed and rendered bank notes useless during burglaries in branches where money was kept at branches overnight.

"Unfortunately these devices have not been rolled out to all the branches. There is still a roll out plan on that," Kekana said.

"In some of the branches where there are no (time-delay devices) and there is overnight cash, yes, we sometimes get these robberies committed," he said.

In her report, Langa noted that point of sale hardware failure was a challenge in the social grant payments but SAPO was fast tracking the replacement of hardware at branches to improve services.

There were also network connectivity challenges.

"The network upgrade to branches is to be completed by mid November," she said.

Langa also said cash ordering and availability of cash at both branches and cash pay points was another challenge.

She however said pre-funding was being concluded.

Meanwhile, Langa said there was a steady growth in the overall total for Postbank social disbursement accounts at 1.61% from March to August.

There were just under 220 000 beneficiaries paid at cash pay points in August.

There were 1634 cash pay points with 769 routes.

"Cash distribution costs remain very high. "

The report said a total of 3.2 million beneficiary accounts were active and operational for SAPO to effect the R350 payments of grants into.

As at the end of August, almost 2.1 million beneficiaries were paid compared to 1.7 million in July.

Cash paid was valued at R1.5bn in August compared to R766m in July, the report said.

Political Bureau

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