Gauteng wants to go cashless

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi says the province wants to go cashless by April 2024 to put an end to the cash-in-transit (CIT) heists causing havoc in the region.

However, his words were somewhat unclear. During an interview with eNCA, Lesufi also said the provincial government wants the entirety of Gauteng to go cashless by 1 January 2026.

“We want to argue that we want to be the first province to go cashless from the first of April next year,” he said.

“But we also want to argue that the entire province must go cashless from the first of January 2026, so that we’ve got two years to plan and strategise.”

Lesufi may have been trying to say that the province wants to start going cashless from April 2024 and have the plan fully implemented by 1 January 2026. However, this isn’t confirmed.

He said the provincial government will hold a cashless Indaba on Thursday, 26 October 2023, to establish the way forward.

“The session tomorrow will build those building blocks towards agenda 2026,” he said.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi

Lesufi said the primary reason for going cashless was the high levels of crime in South Africa, with a recent rise in CIT heists and ATM bombings.

“We really believe it will have an effect in terms of loss of lives. If you check the cash the heists, if you check the bank robberies, if you check the business robberies, they are scary,” he said.

If the move is to come to fruition, it could lead to an increase in online financial crime.

However, Lesufi said South Africa’s banks must strengthen their online systems and adjust their fees to make banking more accessible to all residents.

“Banks must strengthen their online systems, but they must also play their part and come to the party in terms of the interest they are charging and also their fees,” he said.

The premier also said the South African Police Service must strengthen its cybercrime investigation capabilities.

“The removal of cash is inevitable. No one ever thought that a chequebook would be history in our country. We really believe cash can also follow that particular route,” said Lesufi.

Wahl Bartmann, Fidelity Group CEO

Cash use actually rising in South Africa — Fidelity

Cash-in-transit heists have been in the spotlight in South Africa, with 22 security officers being killed and another 121 injured in such incidents in the span of a few days in early October.

“The violence that goes with these attacks and the precision [with which they are] executed makes it very difficult for us to defend [against],” said Wahl Bartmann, Fidelity Group CEO.

“It is at a point where there is no respect for life anymore. Vehicles get bombed with staff still inside.”

He explained that attacks on CIT vehicles have become more sophisticated, with criminal groups assigning specific duties to highly specialised individuals.

“There are guys that specialise in ramming the vehicle and guys that specialise in bombing the vehicle,” said Bartmann.

“They’ve got very accurate gunners that will take out people travelling in moving vehicles… one of our choppers got shot the other day.”

In an interview with eNCA, Bartmann said that contrary to what many believe, the use of cash is increasing in South Africa.

“Cash is not declining in South Africa. It is actually increasing,” he said.

“I don’t think that it’s going to disappear soon. Cash is part of our lives. There’s a lot of it going around, and we need to manage and we need the protection and support from government to assist us with this.”

Now read: 40 kidnappings a day raise concern over smartphone banking safety

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Gauteng wants to go cashless