Victims raise questions after heist at FNB

Cape Town - A Fin24 user writes that a growing number of victims of a recent heist of safety deposit boxes that occurred at a First National Bank (FNB) branch in Randburg are demanding answers.

According to Fin24 user Kelly Fraser the heist took place on 18 December 2016, but she is finding it hard to obtain more details from the bank.

"The victims were only contacted about the robbery three to four days after the incident. Two victims only found out because they attempted to deposit more valuables. Many of the victims were unaware that their boxes were moved from the Fourways branch to the Randburg branch where they were stolen and claim FNB had not notified them of this move," writes Fraser.

"Two sources have confirmed to two independent victims that 339 boxes were taken from the bank. The suspects apparently gained entry into the bank by grinding their way through an internal wall. The gang allegedly had 12 to 15 hours in the bank to gain entry, remove the boxes and load them up."

Apparently the deposit boxes were loaded into a van and transported out of the property. The security guard on duty was overpowered and held hostage in the guardhouse, according to Fraser.

"An alarm went off, the private security company patrolled the outside area and somehow found nothing suspicious despite there being a guard held hostage in the guard house on the property. There was an ATM heist at this same branch just four months previously, which should have led to an increase in security," says Fraser.

"Two elderly victims (over 70) have lost a lifetime’s worth of savings and highly sentimental items. FNB refuses to communicate what and if compensation will be given to victims."

A spokesperson of FNB informed Fin24 that the bank cannot provide any further details as the matter is under investigation.

In a statement issued by Lee-Anne van Zyl, CEO of FNB Points of Presence, she says FNB can confirm that a robbery of safety deposit boxes occurred at its Randburg Branch on the corner of Republic and Main Road on Sunday evening, December 18 2016.
"We deeply regret the impact that this has had on our customers affected by the robbery. FNB could only notify customers once the police had completed their preliminary investigation as well as ascertain which customers were affected. As soon as the bank was able to start communicating to customers it began the process of notifying each customer individually," says Van Zyl.
"We are working closely with the South African Police Services (Saps) and the Organised Crime Unit with regard to the matter. In light of the police investigation currently underway, the bank is unable to provide further commentary regarding the details of the actual robbery."

The questions Fraser wants to have answered include:

- Why, if there was an alarm set off, was there a patrol that yielded no suspicious activity taking place?
- Who was alerted to the alarm going off beyond the private security company?
- Why was there only one security guard on duty?
- Why did the private security not check in with the guard?
- Why did the gang have 12 to 15 hours to pull off the heist?
- Where is the CCTV Footage?
- How can FNB and the Hawks have no idea how many boxes were taken?
- Why, after the previous robbery, was there no attempt to make the branch more secure?
- How do they plan on compensating the 339 people who have lost items both of sentimental and monetary value for the lack of security that was in place?
- When do the Hawks/police plan to release more information on the progress of this investigation?
Fraser urges anyone affected by this heist to get in contact and join the victims' group:

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