By Thomas Mupfukwa

A dramatic surge in armed robberies in the past few months has piled pressure on security companies’ cash-in-transit units to rise to the challenge. In security parlance, cash-in-transit involves the specialised transportation of cash in vehicles or on foot.

The term ‘cash’ is used to describe several high value assets like money, coins, jewelry, gold, securities and other financial instruments. In Zimbabwe the return of the United States dollar as a medium of exchange last year has aggravated the risk of robberies against specialised cash transporters, reminding the markets of the spate of heists that rattled the markets when greenbacks were first introduced in 2009.

High profile cases included some of the country’s biggest banks, including the now defunct Kingdom Bank. After the latest surge in attacks, the Zimbabwe Republic Police has raided and sniffed out armed robbers countrywide, but with the system now sophisticated, the robberies need more than the police to combat.

In May this year, The Chronicle reported that in Bulawayo, a gang trailed a Romicon Security cash-in transit vehicle and pounced on it after making collections from six Choppies Supermarket shops. Security guards were disarmed before the robbers made off with six trunks of cash. “The robbers grabbed the seventh trunk from a security guard who was carrying it to the cash-in-transit truck at the Parklands Choppies Supermarket,” the report said. Security companies need to invest in extra security as they risk losing millions of dollars to robbers.

“The robbers grabbed the seventh trunk from a security guard who was carrying it to the cash-in-transit truck at the Parklands Choppies Supermarket.”

The worsening economic situation has seen a spike in robberies which calls for the need to invest heavily in security systems for the safety of assets. Experts say returnees from South Africa are to blame for the rise in armed robbery cases in Zimbabwe.

Cooperation is now needed between the police, security companies and businesspeople to come up with a policy to help curb rising cases of cash-in-transit robberies. Listed financial services firm, ZB Financial Holdings lost US$2.7 million this January to cheeky robbers who hit a cash-in-transit vehicle movie-style.

The robbery occurred along the Harare – Chinhoyi Highway when a ZB vehicle which was transporting cash was intercepted. “Measures have been taken to improve security and mitigate loss,” said the company. On other hand, it raises the need to push for the use of digital money in the economy.

Zimbabwe could also protect its companies by educating and encouraging people to use less liquid cash to limit the movement of cash in large amounts.

Last year, five armed robbers intercepted a Safeguard cash-in-transit vehicle and disarmed security guards before stealing US$35 000, R350 000 and $2 000, which was being delivered to a branch in Chivi. This was the second time in 2020 for Safeguard Security to lose cash in transit to Mukuru after a driver and an armed guard for the company delivering money in Gokwe in August lost US$306 000.

The list is endless.

Media reports suggest that cash-in-transit heists are spiking yet again in other countries. They are taking place almost daily. As the number of cash-in-transit heists in South Africa increases and the weapons and tactics that the perpetrators employ become ever more sophisticated, security companies have been searching for vehicles designed to withstand the growing risks of transporting cash. Nissan Diesel South Africa, TFM Industries and the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) formed a consortium to design a new CIT vehicle in conjunction with one of South Africa’s leading CIT companies.

The consortium combines the research and development skills of the CSIR’s dedicated vehicle specialists who focused on the design of military, strategic, operational and tactical armoured vehicles, with the engineering and manufacturing capabilities of TFM and Nissan Diesel. Experts say companies need to realise that it is imperative that they start to deploy technology to both save lives and protect assets.

This demonstrates that security companies cannot solve the problem on their own, but they need to move with speed and deploy technology and innovation to stop the attacks – Harare



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