File picture: John Robinson/AP
JOHANNESBURG - The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) warns stokvels and savings clubs to be extra cautious this holiday season. Recent armed robberies across the country have targeted stokvel money withdrawn for distribution.

Sabric says that, between 2014 and December 15 this year, 53 stokvel robbery incidents were reported, with 41 of these occurring during the festive season.

It says criminals are more likely to target members at this time of year, because they know that members are being paid out for the holidays. They also know that people are winding down, and may not be as careful when carrying large amounts of cash.

Kalyani Pillay, the chief executive of Sabric, has the following advice:

• Avoid depositing club members’ contributions on high-risk days, such as the Monday after month end;

• Ensure that people depositing contributions or making withdrawals are accompanied by another club member or someone else they trust;

• Instead of collecting and distributing cash, arrange for members to deposit contributions directly into the club’s account and for payouts to be electronically transferred into members’ personal accounts;

• Vary the days and times on which you deposit cash;

• Do not openly display the money you are depositing while standing in the bank queue, or carry bank bags that are easily visible; and

• Instead of your regular branch, occasionally use another branch nearby, to ensure that your banking pattern is not easy to recognise.