What You Need To Know:
South Africa: The small suburb of Lanseria, Gauteng province, Johannesburg was today the arena for a common tactic employed by criminals. A cash-in-transit vehicle (CIT) was hit with an improvised explosive device and while the owners of the vehicle scrambled for safety, locals descended upon the burning truck and looted its contents.
CIT robberies are not uncommon in South Africa, with the nation seeing a 24% rise in this specific type of attack in the first months of 2023. Gauteng province has been the epicentre of the crime wave, with 40% of all CIT attacks occurring in the region.
R114 near Lanseria. This is moments after the robbers left. WATCH how members of the public run towards the cash van. pic.twitter.com/wP99hmMiZz
— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) August 22, 2023
Furthermore, the South African Police Force (SAPS) has noted that over time, the robberies have become violent. Grant Clark, the head of the South African Cash in Transit Association stated in April, “Cash-in-transit robbery incidents, when perpetrators attack the crew when conducting services at clients, are on the increase. The group size of these perpetrators is becoming bigger. They do not hesitate to use violence during these cross-pavement attacks and the risk of injuring innocent bystanders is of concern.” The groups conducting such attacks are normally heavily armed and strong in numbers. Earlier this year, two bystanders were shot at random by assailants conducting a CIT heist. In another incident, SAPS shot and killed 10 members of a CIT heist group in Sebokeng.
A Worrying Increase In Crime:
South Africa has seen an extraordinary rise in crime in recent years, with the 2023 crime statistics claiming 68 murders a day. While contact-related crimes (-1.60%) and property crimes (-4.50%) have decreased, serious and violent crimes have increased (+12.4%).
Ranking first on the highest crime index, above Somalia, Nigeria, and Angola, many citizens as well as Police Minister Bheki Cele stating undocumented foreign nationals are to blame for the exorbitant rise in Crime. In a statement earlier this month Cele claimed, “When they commit a crime, they give police difficult work to check and chase those people who have no fingerprints, no DNA, and all that. But one thing that takes us back on this matter, every stall in these streets is foreign nationals, and mostly those foreign nationals are illegal, hence, when you come, they shut them and run when they see the police.”
The comment came after the conclusion of the nationwide ‘Operation Shanela’ undertaken by SAPS, employing “a multi-disciplinary strategy that is aimed at combating crime.” To date, various regions have seen the success of the operation, with forces recovering 2.3 Million Rand of stolen copper in Kwa-ZuluNatal and arresting over 300 suspects for various crimes in the Northern Cape.
An Overemphasis on Foreign Nationals?:
However, some commentators claim that although the operation is seeing success, the over-focus on foreign nationals is hindering overall crime-combating efforts. Last year, during a United Nations Human Rights Council Review in Geneva, the Council stated that the South African Government “urgently needed to address xenophobia, femicide and corruption.” With attacks on foreign nationals and their businesses on the rise, academics such as Amanuel Isak Tewolde have claimed structural forces contribute to social and structural xenophobia.