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02 May 2012 at 15:26 - Posted by Anonymous

ATM Bombing Warzone


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The scourge of ATM bombings in Rustenburg is now getting ridiculous. If the current trend continues, you should not be surprised if “ATM bombing” is added to the options of the automated answering service of your bank. Imagine, “If you want assistance with internet banking, press 1. If you want to report an ATM bombing, please press 2...

Lately there were signs of copy cat criminals or opportunists who also realised that there is easy money to be made.  However the gang guilty of the latest bombing forms part of a whole new breed; they are professional, ruthless and armed to the teeth.  In video footage viewed of a number of ATM bombings at petrol stations the average time to secure the scene, place the bomb, blow up the ATM, take the money and make a getaway is around 4-6 minutes. This points to their meticulous planning, experience and slickness of the gang syndicates.  
 
A resident in the area where the latest ATM bombing occurred described the “war zone” she suddenly found herself in:  “We heard at least 60 to 70 automatic fire arm shots. I did not fall asleep again, I was too scared.” A group of 10 heavily armed men, stopped for “business as usual” at the ABSA ATM’s of the Omega Café on the corner of Kremetart and Klopper streets at around 02h00 on Sunday morning (29 April).  (The very same ATM’s at Omega Café was also bombed last year,Thursday, 14 July 2011.) 
The perpetrators arrived at the scene in a silver/grey BMW and a white Honda. The same vehicles were noticed hours earlier (around 22h30 on Saturday 28 April) at the bombing of a FNB ATM at the Jabula hostel, close to Townlands shaft.    In two tics and a tango, very nonchalant, they wired the ATMs with commercial explosives and a blast went off which could be heard blocks away. A cloud of smoke emerged from the scene... 
 
This time, the SAPS were alerted by members of the community and 3 members of the SAPS flying squad arrived within seconds. The flying squad were met with a hail of bullets when they approached the scene. A shoot-out ensued and a 39 year old SAPS sergeant was shot in the torso. Thanks to wearing a bullet proof vest, he only sustained minor injuries. He already returned to duty. Reports of an officer shot in the leg, leaked by certain media, turned out to be incorrect. 
A top team of seasoned detectives are hard at work to track down these ATM bombers. The questions on everybody’s mind is: How do you stop these heavily armed “small armies” from bombing and raiding the ATM’s? How do you deter them? The situation is obviously endangering the lives of our police officers and security company personnel. Three police officers against a group of 10, armed too the teeth, is incomprehensible. There is therefore a need for the banking industry to step up security measures at ATMs in order that the cash contents are better protected and secured. 
 
The Platinum weekly has asked several interested parties their viewpoint on how the cash of ATM’s can be better secured. A few suggestions that stood out: “They should install some sort of pepper spray device that must go off as soon as a alarm sensor picks up that the ATM is being tampered with, or they should install dye-bombs as they do with the Cash-In-Transit robberies.”
“You know they plant the explosive device inside the ATM, otherwise they will just blow off the cover. They should have a alarm going off, as soon as there is irregular movement on the inside.”
“Maybe the operational time of ATM’s in risk areas should be limited. They could install barriers enclosing ATM’s at a certain time” was also mentioned as a suggestion.
 
Enhancing the security measures will surely cost a lot of money, but it must be taken into account that no single life can be measured with monetary value. Mine workers are mostly responsible for the illegal sale of explosives. Therefore the mines have to play their part in ensuring the tracking and tracing of all the explosives they are responsible for. They should properly secure explosives and take preventative measures to avoid explosives from being stolen and sold on the streets.
 
As long as ATM bombing is worth the while, you will have people doing it. Therefore, it remains the responsibility of the banks to secure the cash.
 
Statistics derived from the low percentage of arrests made, indicates that some criminals are actually educated and are in the possession of post-matric qualifications. In addition, most have legitimate day jobs, although many of them choose to be unemployed with crime being their only form of employment.
 
Members of the public are urged to give any information they have regarding ATM gangs. Police have warned that the men are “extremely dangerous, possibly highly trained and well equipped,” and urged the public not to approach them. The Provincial Commissioner of the North West, Lt Gen Zukiswa Mbombo, said she has noted with concerned a trend of ATM bombing that has been occurring in the Rustenburg area. She said the police are taking this matter very serious they are working night and day to make sure that these thugs are put behind bars where they belong. Lt Gen Mbombo said they are not going to leave any stone unturned. Lt Gen Mbombo said she is requesting the public to help the police in catching these perpetrators, she added she is urging the public to come forward with any information that can assist the police in fighting this crime. Anyone with information who might assist the police investigation is requested to phone the SAPS on (014) 590 4113/4/5 or 086 0010 111. Anyone with information can also directly contact Colonel Ganya on 082 337 8610 and/or Col. Phitshoane on 082 578 4312.
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