Keep the information about your stokvel money private to avoid being targeted by criminals.
This is the warning from the police to stokvel groups as they prepare to convene and distribute their funds, as the year-end approaches.
During this period, criminals often focus their attention on stokvel groups by attempting to steal the year’s accumulated savings.
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Stokvel groups typically commence their meetings in November, a time when they gather to deliberate on financial matters and distribute their pooled funds among the members.
Despite the availability of safer and more convenient technological options, some groups still adhere to the tradition of physically withdrawing and sharing the funds among themselves.
They meet at a certain place to count the money and distribute it.
Stokvels commonly follow a rotational format, where group members make regular fixed contributions, either on a weekly or monthly basis.
Every month, they convene to gather and deposit their contributions into a shared account.
As the year draws to a close, they come together once more, with each member receiving their entire contribution amount.
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Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson, Sergeant Sifiso Gwala, highlighted that one of the most prevalent reasons stokvels fall victim to robberies is the tendency openly to share distribution plans with a wide audience.
He said during this time of the year, criminals are also ready to use any opportunity and information that they can get to rob these groups.
At this time police start getting cases of stokvel groups robbed and all their savings taken. The criminals are putting their ears all over now; that is why it is important for the groups to keep the information about their finances to themselves. They must also refrain from withdrawing large amounts of cash and keeping it inside their houses.
“They need to move with technology. The best way that will guarantee that their money is safe is when they keep it in the bank and do electronic transfers when it is time for them to distribute the money among themselves,” he said.
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He added that he understood that sometimes people get excited and they want to see the real cash but they are discouraging that.
“What we have established also is that in some cases a member of the stokvel group is the one who shares information and organises the robbery.
“This is why it is so important that they take stokvel with people that they trust. Sometimes other members get excited and give out details of when they are going to get their money. Criminals then use this information to their advantage and they get away with all the money.”
Gwala also advised individuals engaging in food stokvels to avoid carrying cash and instead recommended obtaining price quotations and transferring funds directly to the designated shop where they intend to purchase their groceries.
He said by following these small tips, stokvel-related robberies can be stopped.