After a long year of saving, it's that time when many people belonging to stokvels are eagerly anticipating their payouts.
A fair number of stokvels still believe in the long-standing tradition of sharing hard cash -- and this means bulk withdrawals. But criminals know this too.
Police say incidents of cash robberies are prevalent during the festive season, when stokvels are known to distribute money to their members.
Here are a few tips from the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) and the South African Police Service (SAPS), to ensure safe transactions this festive season:
1. Don't publicise the withdrawal
Tell as few people as possible when and where you will be withdrawing the money. Criminals have in the past confessed to having received inside information.
3. Beware of spotters
These are people who enter banks pretending to be clients, but in actual fact they are identifying people making large withdrawals. They communicate this information to accomplices who wait outside the bank, who follow the withdrawer and rob them.
3. Travel in pairs
It may be easier to spot a spotter if you're travelling in pairs. This also provides an additional sense of security. Criminals are less likely to attack a group, as opposed to an individual.
4. Avoid visible money carriers
Avoid carrying moneybags, briefcases or any other items that give away the fact that you're carrying a large amount of money. Also exercise caution when displaying your deposit receipt book.
5. Change the distribution venue
Change where you meet regularly, so your patterns cannot be traced by would-be criminals. This is particularly important on distribution day.
Sabric CEO Kalyani Pillay encourages stokvel members to find safer ways of transacting –– such as cellphone banking or electronic transfers –– because carrying large amounts of money increases risk, especially at this time of year.