Precision, bribes, secret meetings and planning: these are the strategies, according to criminology lecturer Dr Mahlogonolo Thobane, that convicted robbers speak of when detailing the execution of cash-in-transit heists.
The findings were part of Thobane’s research for her master’s degree thesis on crime.
Thobane, speaking on Kfm, said she interviewed 40 heist bandits who were currently serving time. The identities of her sources remain a secret, though she details some of her insight into the minds of the robbers.
Thobane says she discovered that one of the important factors in the planning of heists is a visit to a sangoma.
“They believe that they have to see a sangoma first so that they can be pointed in the right direction or to be told whether the robbery will be successful or not. They believe the muti they get makes them powerful and invincible.”
She believes the robbers are not chancers, but planners who are very meticulous.
“A whole lot of planning goes into it,” she said, adding the robbers often found a “finger man”, someone on the inside to provide intricate details of how much is in the truck and the times of the pickups and drop-offs.
This then leads to sourcing vehicles, which are often hijacked. Thobane said the entire operation required a lot of money and time. Bribes, hotels for meetings, buying weapons and explosives are what the large cashflow goes into.
She also revealed there was police involvement in these robberies, and further said in some instances, her informants said police were used to mislead other officers from the right trail.
“The police officers are on their payroll, they bribe them. It is not only police officers, but also magistrates and law enforcement in general to make dockets disappear – so a whole lot of people are bribed.”
Thobane’s thesis sought to uncover the intensive work behind the operations of cash-in-transit heists.