Banks and ATMs looted

Nedbank CEO Mike Brown says 37 of their bank branches and 112 ATMs have been vandalised or looted.

Speaking to Biznews, Brown said they could currently not get to these facilities to determine the extent of the damage.

“All we know at the moment is the number of machines and branches, not the actual losses and damages,” said Brown.

He said it is “absolutely extraordinary and devastating” what’s happening in our country right now.

“What is played out in front of us is evidence of absolutely no respect for law and order, which is the foundation for any society,” he said.

The Nedbank CEO said “it’s extraordinarily difficult” to lead a business the size of Nedbank during these tumultuous times.

“What we’ve done is to focus on the safety of our staff in the first instance,” said Brown.

“All our brank branches in KwaZulu-Natal and the affected areas in Gauteng closed, so that means we’ve probably only got about 50% of our total branches open in the country – 250 to 260 branches are closed,” he said.

“Thankfully, as of today, we’ve had no injuries to any of our staff which is our primary focus at the moment.”

Other banks, including Absa, Capitec Bank, Standard Bank, and FNB, have also closed branches in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Capitec Bank marketing and communications executive Francois Viviers said they have closed over 300 bank branches and ATMs.

“ATMs in affected areas will not be supplied with cash or accept deposits until it is safe to do so,” said Viviers.

Absa said that it has temporarily closed all its KwaZulu-Natal branches and some branches in the south and north Gauteng region to ensure the safety of its customers and employees.

The Banking Association South Africa (BASA) said the destruction of bank branches and ATMs directly imperils the safety, social security, economic activity, and jobs of South Africans.

“Banks and their staff are an essential part of our country’s economic infrastructure and provide vital services to the communities in which they operate,” BUSA said.

“The destruction of branches and ATMs hampers the ability of South Africans to draw their salaries and make payments for their daily needs, and of businesses to operate and pay their staff and suppliers.”

When bank operations are forced to close and services are suspended to protect employees from violence, it is the most vulnerable in our communities who suffer most.

“Many child support grants, pensions and other social security grants are accessed through the banking system,” BUSA said.

Banks are now assessing the extent of the damage done to this vital social security and economic infrastructure.

“It is already clear from the magnitude of the destruction that it will take many weeks before the hundreds of ATMs that have been destroyed can be returned to service.”

South African stocks retreated Thursday as investors assessed whether authorities are succeeding in calming rioting and looting that has left more than 70 people dead.

The JSE Africa All Share Index dropped 0.4% by 10:06 a.m. in Johannesburg. A steadier rand helped a recovery in locally-focused sectors, while benchmark giant Naspers Ltd. advanced.

That was countered by declines in market heavyweight Richemont and drops in mining majors BHP and Anglo American Plc.

Insurer Liberty Holdings soared the most on record as majority shareholder Standard Bank said it plans to acquire the shares it doesn’t already own.

South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told lawmakers Wednesday that troops in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, which have been the epicentre of the looting and destruction of businesses, will be boosted to 25,000 from about 5,000.

Protests erupted on 10 July after former President Jacob Zuma was incarcerated for defying a court order to testify before a graft inquiry and degenerated into a free-for-all in two of the country’s main economic hubs.

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Banks and ATMs looted