The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has confirmed that at least 1 227 ATMs and 310 bank branches were vandalised or destroyed in the unrest from 9 July to 17 July.

SABRIC has been assessing the threats, and quantifying the losses incurred by the banking industry because of the civil unrest which took place in Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng, which saw a breakdown in the rule of law that resulted in loss of life and jobs as well as the widespread theft and destruction of infrastructure.

SABRIC CEO Nischal Mewalall comments: “There is great concern over the impact of intelligence failures and the state’s response to the eight consecutive days of civil unrest that resulted in unprecedented destruction of banking infrastructure in South Africa.”

Of the 1 227 ATMs affected, 256 were breached (broken into using force) and 36 physically stolen from their sites. They have not been recovered to date. In addition, 82 in-branch safes were also breached.

Physical cash stolen from ATMs and bank branches amount to R119 400 243 to date. This amount excludes all further infrastructure damage and replacement costs.

“The theft of R119 400 243 in hard cash is very concerning. Not all notes are dye-stained and millions in unsoiled notes will be injected back into the economy. This money is the proceeds of crime and there is now a war chest available to fund more organised crime, to corrupt more officials and to promote lawlessness.” adds Mewalall.

The effectiveness of South Africa’s anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime will be critical in detecting the individuals behind these crimes. SABRIC therefore urges businesses to be stringent about cash threshold reporting, to not engage in facilitating suspicious transactions and immediately report any suspicious and unusual transactions to the Financial Intelligence Centre.