Posted on July 31, 2021

R20 Million in Cash Could’ve Been Looted From ATMs

Luke Daniel, Business Insider, July 29, 2021

Approximately R20 million in cash could’ve been looted from ATMs in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal during the wave of unrest that swept over the provinces in mid-July. This estimate is by no means an exact account of the total losses incurred by banks due to the looting and destruction, warns the Banking Association South Africa (Basa).

More than 1,400 ATMs across Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal were vandalised during the unrest which left 337 people dead, many more injured, and thousands arrested for public violence. Close to 300 bank branches and post office outlets were also damaged, according to Basa.

Hundreds of malls and thousands of shops were looted and damaged – some being burned to the ground – in riots which threatened the supply of food and fuel.

The cost of the unrest is estimated to be anywhere between R35 billion and R50 billion.

Banks were especially hard hit by the unrest. Branches in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal closed to protect clients and staff. ATMs, which were unscathed in the looting, were still not refilled for fear of attacks on cash-in-transit staff.

In the wake of the deadly unrest, the banking sector, like most industries across the two provinces, is still counting its losses.

“The damage [sustained to banking infrastructure] was quite extensive,” Bongiwe Kunene, the managing director of Basa, said in a press briefing on Thursday morning.

“We have 269 banks impacted and the damage has been assessed and we’re working on restoring those branches… but we also have more than 1,400 ATMs which were damaged, and the damage varies in terms of severity. So, I would say the banks were not spared the violence and impact of the unrest.”