Polokwane - The South African Police Service (SAPS) in Limpopo has strongly urged residents to be vigilant this festive season, especially women participating in stokvel social clubs, and to stop distributing their collected money in cash.
"As the police, we have made this earnest call throughout this year as part of our ongoing crime awareness campaigns. However, we still find members of the community not being responsible, especially in light of carrying cash safely," Lt-Col Moatshe Ngoepe said on Sunday.
This followed two separate robberies in the Tzaneen policing cluster this week when women were robbed of their stokvel money - a large amount of cash.
In the Bolobedu policing area outside Tzaneen, a 54-year-old woman was robbed of stokvel money immediately after she arrived at home from the bank.
It was alleged that at about midday on Thursday, the woman entered her home at Ga-Mamaila village after withdrawing the money from the bank for distribution, when two unknown cars stopped in front of her home and three unknown men entered her room and demanded the money.
They threatened her, robbed her of a large amount of cash, and fled the scene, Ngoepe said.
In another incident in Modjiadjiskloof, also outside Tzaneen, a 42-year-old woman was robbed of stokvel money at Goudplaas on Friday.
It was alleged that the woman was asleep when six armed suspects broke into her house and robbed her of her stokvel money and children's clothing before fleeing the scene.
Ngoepe said stokvel social club members were advised to use electronic funds transfers (EFTs) to distribute their money instead of distributing cash. This would prevent robberies such as the two this week.
No arrests had been made in either incident and police appealed to anyone who might have any information about the robberies to contact Lt-Col Cecil Machimani on 082-451-7181, or the Crime Stop number 08600-10111 or the Crime Line SMS 32211.
Ngoepe offered some safety tips for members of cash savings clubs which could help them avoid becoming victims of cash robberies:
- Refrain from making cash deposits of club members’ contributions on high risk days (eg Monday after month end);
- Ensure persons depositing club cash contributions or making withdrawals are accompanied by another club member;
- A stokvel, savings club, or burial society can arrange for members to deposit cash directly into the club’s account instead of collecting cash contributions; and
- Arrange for the club’s payout to be electronically transferred into each club member’s personal account or accounts of their choice.