File. Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane

JOHANNESBURG - There have been 96 cash-in-transit heists in Gauteng in the past nine months with police recovering R95 million in stolen cash, the community safety department said on Tuesday.

The department said most of the armed robbers managed to get away and  have not yet been arrested.

''Between August 2017 and 22 May 2018, a total number 96 cash in transit cases have been reported, while 44 armored vehicles were attacked with 52 of them taking place on cross pavement," the department said in a statement.

"Very few suspects were arrested, there are only 11 cases where arrests were made while 85 suspects are still at large. The actual number of suspects arrested to date amounts to 26 in total."

The department said so far R95 million in cash has been recovered from the scene and the suspects. In addition, firearms and other items have been recovered. The guns include eight AK47 rifles, R5, R4, BM 4, and 119mm pistols.

As many as 16 vehicles were recovered from the suspects. Two police radios, two military bulletproof vests were also recovered. 

The department said there were two warrants of arrests that were yet to be executed.

MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane met with law enforcement agencies on Monday to come up with ways to curb the increasing spate of cash-in-transit heists that add to the escalating violent crimes gripping South Africa.   

''Criminals are proving to be sophisticated lately, therefore a collective approach to deal with cash in transit heist is critical. It is important that we commit all our resources and engage all the law enforcement agencies in the province to deal with this challenge. We cannot allow these criminals to walk our streets and instill fear among citizens,'' Nkosi-Malobane said.
 
''I have instructed the crime intelligence team to work around the clock to ensure that all suspects linked to the heists are arrested and ensure that maximum sentenced is imposed [by the courts]. All law enforcement agencies and specialised units must work together to deal with the scourge of cash-in-transit heists.''

Nkosi-Malobane said investigators needed to work together with private security and stop syndicates who supply explosives used by robbers to bomb cash vehicles.

In his budget speech last week, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced that tactical response and tracking-teams would be deployed in medium- to high-risk intelligence operations dedicated to fighting high priority crimes, including cash-in-transit heists. 

African News Agency/ANA