Township ATMs under threat

2008-01-22 00:00

Ongoing automated teller machine (ATM) bombings have raised security concerns in townships and small towns.

Some communities in townships have been denied the convenience of ATMs in their neighbourhood following bombings in their areas. Police remain mum on whether criminals are targeting machines in townships and semi-rural towns.

Police spokeswoman director Phindile Radebe conceded the fact that most bombings in the province happen outside the cities.

“It appears that most ATM bombings happened out of town, but we cannot speculate on that,” she said.

The most recent ATM blasts happened in Ezinqolweni, a rural area near Harding on January 18. On January 11, two machines were blasted in Cato Ridge.

On Boxing Day, a machine was blown up in Highflats. The incident forced the closure of the branch. Nedbank clients now have to travel 15 km to Ixopo to make transactions at that branch.

Another bombing was reported in Umlazi township.

The police were successful in foiling an ATM bombing in Imbali last year, lying in wait for the gang after a tip-off. However customers lost the useful machine, and six months later, the ATM has still not been replaced.

Banking institutions have committed themselves to continuing to take their services to their customers.

Standard Bank spokesman Erik Larsen gave the assurance that the institution will not pull out of townships and small towns.

“We remain committed to providing all our customers with financial services as they require them. We will not pull out from the townships,” said Larsen. He was optimistic about combating ATM bombings.

Radebe asked the public to report suspicious individuals and groups near ATMs.

“People should report to the police any information that may assist the police in stopping an ATM bombing. These ATMs help the community. If they are closed, the community will suffer.”

The SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) could not provide answers to what reactions other banking institutions will take regarding township and rural facilities.

Sabric is responsible for leading the SA banking industry’s co-ordinated initiatives to reduce bank-related organised crime, such as card and cheque fraud.

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