Banks count the cost of 'six-day war'

Over 1,400 ATMs and almost 300 bank branches and post office outlets damaged

A destroyed Nedbank ATM at Diepkloof Mall in Soweto.
A destroyed Nedbank ATM at Diepkloof Mall in Soweto.
Image: Alon Skuy

Repairing the country's thousands of damaged and vandalised automatic teller machines (ATMs) is expected to take “many weeks”, adding a further cost to the billions of rand lost during civil unrest and looting that has gripped SA.

Over 1,400 ATMs and almost 300 bank branches and post office outlets were vandalised in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal since last Saturday, the Banking Association SA (Basa) said on Friday.

Another 1,300 bank branches were shut from July 12 to 14 in an effort to keep employees  safe, the association added.

“Services have been further disrupted by the destruction of many retail outlets, which often also serve as cash points, especially in outlying areas.”

While banks were reopening and ATMS returned to service as soon as possible, there were fears that payments to SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) beneficiaries could be disrupted.

An estimated 11.5m people use ATMs or point of sale devices to collect their grants.

Basa said it was working with its members, the SA Post Office and retailers to determine the extent of the damage.

In areas where ATMs were still out of service or branches still closed, banks would offer mobile ATMs or cash points.

Banking operations in areas of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng not affected by the unrest were operating as normal, the association said.

“There is no shortage of cash in these provinces, even though some cashpoints have been disrupted,” it said, adding that it was “confident” that workers and state social security beneficiaries would be able to withdraw their salaries and grants.

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