Cash warning to businesses

2017-05-03 13:45
Armed gang wait until closing time before taking cash from tills.

Armed gang wait until closing time before taking cash from tills. (File)

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Police are on the hunt for six armed robbers who walked out of a Pietermaritzburg business with an undisclosed amount of money in a brazen robbery.

The robbery has prompted security experts and police to once again warn city businesses that hold large sums of cash on their premises, to take additional security measures, especially after public holidays and long weekends.

The warning was issued on Tuesday while Pietermaritzburg police were searching for an armed gang who targeted the Jwayelani Butchery in the city CBD on Monday night.

Three store managers and three security guards from the Selgro Centre butchery were held at gunpoint on Monday evening shortly before they locked the butchery’s doors at 7 pm.

Jwayelani regional manager Wesley Davis said six men clad in balaclavas and carrying firearms stormed into the store while managers cashed the tills.

“They pointed the guns at the staff and demanded the money.

“They left with an undisclosed amount of money and even grabbed the CCTV cameras on their way out,” Davis said.

He said although the store managers and security guards were unharmed “it was a terrifying experience”.

The entire incident lasted about 15 minutes and police are still in search of the suspects.

uMgungundlovu South cluster police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said police were investigating a case of armed robbery.

Ngobese warned business owners to be extra vigilant, especially after public holidays.

“Businesses do not have the opportunity to bank their takings due to the public holidays and most businesses will have extra income over the long weekends.

“We want business owners to be extra vigilant during this time, take extra safety precautions and alert the police immediately should anything go wrong so we can act immediately,” Ngobese said.

In another public holiday robbery in Cape Town on Monday, a security guard and a robber were killed when a robbery turned into a hostage situation at the Shoprite at the Nyanga Junction mall.

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness said that business owners should always be aware that there are “extreme risks” attached to holding large amounts of cash on site.

“Businesses that operate over weekends and on public holidays, and that take in large amounts of cash, are particularly vulnerable when we have long weekends such as the past weekend,” she said.

“In 70% of instances like this the information provided can be traced directly back to staff,” said Veness, who recommended that businesses try to limit the number of employees that handle cash.

“Businesses must also ensure that they do not do routine banking. It isn’t possible to bank the cash as often as one would like to and criminals are aware that you are, in all likelihood, holding excess cash,” she said.

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) warned that all business owners should never openly display their money in the tills or while depositing it.

Sabric CEO Kalyani Pillay said businesses should alternate the days and times on which they deposit cash.

“Business owners should also refrain from giving wages to their contract or casual labourers in full view of the public. Rather make use of wage accounts that can be provided by the bank,” she said.

Pillay shared other tips for business owners to use such as, “Avoid carrying money bags, briefcases or openly displaying your deposit receipt book.

“Ensure that your banking pattern is not easily recognisable or detected.

“If the amount of cash you are regularly depositing is increasing as your business grows, consider using the services of a cash management company,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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