Police and the army should not be expected to escort security vans for firms that are paid to transport cash, Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula said yesterday.
Hinting that that would amount to government doing free work for those who benefit from winning tenders, he said private security companies need to better equip and protect their guards.
Cash-in-transit guards were often given minimal training on handling weapons, he said.
“Cash guards are not driving reinforced vehicles and they are carrying pistols, whereas the robbers are carrying high-calibre weapons.”
He said cash heists “captured the imagination” because they took place in a dramatic way in broad daylight but there were few of “these incidents” compared to other crimes.
Nqakula said that cash heists formed part of organised crime – which made up 20% of the total – and had increased by 74% in the past year, but this worked out to just 123 more incidents.
“We do not have a situation where at any point there have been more than 600 (cash heists in a year).”
The three areas where police crime-reduction targets were not met in the past statistical year were murder, rape and indecent assault.
Nqakula posed the question of why criminals knew when and where large amounts of cash were being transported.
“We asked this of the business people who talk to us (regarding crime) and they are looking at this.
“Organised crime has infiltrated the businesses” and ways had to be found to vet people working in “crucial areas” such as alarms system controls, he said.
The Minister said his department was making strides curtailing crime.
By Christelle du Toit The Citizen