File picture: John Robinson/AP

Polokwane - Police in Limpopo on Monday urged savings clubs to use electronic bank transfers instead of carrying large amounts of cash for distribution among members, as is the tradition at this time of the year, because criminals were lurking and waiting to pounce. 

The warning came after stokvel members were robbed of their cash in two separate incidents at the weekend in Ga-Seaphole and Mongatane villages.

Colonel Lieutenant Moatshe Ngoepe said on Sunday at around 1 pm, a group of 45 women gathered at Ga-Seaphole village outside Tzaneen to share their savings. 

''Two armed suspects pounced on them, demanding money and started shooting randomly, injuring one of them. They were robbed of a large amount of money before the suspects fled the scene.'' 

In Mongatane, outside Burgersfort, a stokvel member was robbed of her share of cash. Criminals broke into her home at about 2 am while she was sleeping with her children on Sunday. They stole cash and cellphones before fleeing. 

No arrests have been made. 

Ngoepe warned that handling large amounts of cash exposed stokvel members to robberies. 

''To prevent these type of incidents, stokvels are advised to use electronic transactions to distribute money instead of withdrawing cash," said Ngoepe.

"We have made this call throughout this year and reiterated that since the beginning of this festive period as part of our ongoing crime awareness campaigns, but some of our communities continue to ignore this."

African News Agency/ANA