These shocking statistics were revealed by Kalyani Pillay, chief executive of he South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric).
According to the statistics compiled by Sabric between January 1 and August 31 this year there have been 232 incidents reported across the industry using different modus operandi, cross-pavement attacks being the most prevalent.
Pillay said the 49% increase referred only to cash-in-transit crimes and did not include business robberies.
Wahl Bartman, Fidelity Group chief executive, said they had seen a surge in cash-in-transit heists countrywide this year, with an alarming increase in attacks on cash vehicles and guards.
The syndicates carrying out these crimes were sophisticated and highly organised, he said. “We are constantly evolving our technology and changing our procedures to ensure we stay a step ahead of the criminals. Unfortunately, the increase in crime, coupled with high unemployment is causing robberies and heists to spike.
"We have also seen a move from urban areas where we have clamped down quite substantially, to the outlying areas."
Pillay said heists were no longer confined to urban areas, but had spread to rural towns across the country.
She said the provinces that experienced the highest increases in the past eight months included the Western Cape followed by North West and Gauteng.
“Sabric is working closely with Fidelity and other cash-in-transit companies as well as law-enforcement officials to analyse the crime risk information and jointly come up with strategies and risk-mitigation measures to deal with this crisis.”
Gareth Newham, head of the justice and violence prevention programme at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, said for most of the past decade cash-in-transit heists had been on the decline.
Newham said however, that this year would be the second consecutive year that the police recorded an increase.
“The SAPS's crime intelligence needs to be sorted out. It is increasingly urgent that suspended crime intelligence head Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli is brought before an independent disciplinary hearing to answer to serious allegations."