Cash heists: Unions demand specialised task force, new laws

2018-06-12 20:32

An estimated 2000 cash-in-transit employees descended on the Johannesburg CBD on Tuesday morning, joining their colleagues nationwide in a march against the spike of heists and their dissatisfaction with the police’s response to it.

Thousands walked alongside company “cash cars” through the city centres of Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Bloemfontein, Cape Town and Durban to hand over memorandum of demands to local city officials.

Motor Transport Workers Union spokesperson, Hlasinyane Motaung, on his way to Cape Town ahead of the portfolio committee briefing on Wednesday, said the turnout on Tuesday morning was beyond their expectations.

He said the union requested 60 cash vans but received 90, and was very happy with the support from the companies.

“We hope the government will hear us,” said Motaung.

The union would like the government to regulate the requirements for cash-in-transit services.

“We want the government to regulate the type of vehicles and type of firearms,” he said.

The demands by the unions include the formation of a specialised police task force to respond to cash-in-transit gangs and a Parliamentary inquiry to create new legislation that will require the cash-in-transit industry to adopt appropriate minimum standards.

The union, together with the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union and South African Policing Union, will brief the portfolio committee on police in Parliament on the heists.

Although the Motor Transport Workers Union received a lot of support from the cash-in-transit companies it still had a list of demands for Fidelity Cash Solutions, SBV Services and G4S.

Companies such as Fidelity and SBV pledged their support to the unions before the march.

“SBV stands united with all stakeholders in the cash services sector in the fight against cash-in-transit violence and crime. The safety of people, our customer’s assets and our service levels are at all times a key priority for SBV,” said Mark Barrett, SBV Services Group chief executive, in a statement.

Fidelity told City Press its cash-in-transit vans were attacked 19 times since this year began, a sharp increase from the seven incidents reported last year between January and April.

“In terms of our employees, 55 have been injured since January to the end of April and unfortunately there have been four fatalities,” said Fidelity’s company representative.

Fidelity has also pledged its support to the protest:

“Yes as an industry we agreed with members of both The Federation of Unions of South Africa and the Motor Transport Workers Union to show solidarity with our employees and support the march.”

The demands from the unions to the companies are as follows:

• Increase the number of personnel in a crew to at least four a van;

• Equip cash-in-transit security officers with guns and ammunition that are powerful enough to counter the heavy weaponry carried by heist gangs;

• Upgrade cash-in-transit vans with impenetrable military body metal with internal vaults or safes of similar strength and;

• Provide professional counselling, services and sick leave for the victims of heists and their families.

Fidelity said its first priority was to ensure its officers were trained correctly and the upgrade of armoured vehicles and other equipment such as firearms, semi-automatic rifles and bullet proof or protective uniforms and CCTV surveillance.

G4S was not immediately available for comment.

The Motor Transport Workers Union, together with its affiliate Fedusa, appealed to the public to sign the petition in solidarity.

“Some people might seem tough when they are on duty but they are human beings,” said Motaung.

Fedusa spokesperson Frank Nxumalo echoed Motaung’s sentiment.

“We are appealing to the public to sympathise with our cause,” said Nxumalo.

The Parliamentary committee briefing is expected to begin at 9am on Wednesday.

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January 20 2019