Unrest saw R120 million in cash stolen from ATMs and banks


The civil unrest in July resulted in more than 1 200 ATMs stolen or damaged and R120 million in cash taken from ATMs and bank branches.

This is according to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), which has been quantifying the losses incurred by the banking industry because of the civil unrest that took place from 9 July to 17 July in Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The civil unrest 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 said, “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.”

SABRIC said between 9 and 17 July, at least 1 227 ATMs and 310 bank branches were vandalised or destroyed in the unrest. Of the 1 227 ATMs, 256 ATMs were breached (broken into using force) and 36 ATMs physically stolen from their sites and have not been recovered to date. In addition, 82 in-branch safes were also breached as well.

Physical cash stolen from ATMs and bank branches amounts to R119 400 243. 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,” added Mewalall.