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SA banks count cost of replacing ATMs looted during unrest

The indicative average replacement cost of an ATM at R385 000.
Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

South African banks said on Thursday that replacing 1 400 automatic teller machines (ATMs) vandalised and looted during recent violent unrest could take about two months.

As much as R20 million ($1.37 million) could have been taken, “however that is a rough estimate,” according to Bongiwe Kunene, managing director of the Banking Association South Africa.

Days of riots and looting earlier this month left more than 300 people dead and damaged thousands of businesses, including 269 bank branches.

Banks are still assessing the extent of the damage and developing recovery plans, with the indicative average replacement cost of an ATM at R385 000, Kunene told a media briefing.

“We haven’t been able to add up the exact numbers of how much was in the ATMs that were looted. What we do know is we’re working with estimates which are close to R20 million, however that is a rough estimate,” Kunene said.

She added that despite the disruption of cashpoints, there is currently no shortage of cash in the affected areas.

To assist social grant recipients who live in areas where banking services are currently unavailable, customers will be able to use any ATM, including those not operated by their own bank, without incurring additional charges, from August 1 to September 30, Kunene said.

Rioting broke out on July 9 after former President Jacob Zuma handed himself in to start a 15-month jail term for contempt of court.

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Don’t you guys have payment machines at shops? Electronic payments? Or is that too sophisticated?

A municipality should provide a service to a community on the same terms as a bank provide services to that community. The users in that community should be able to pay for the service or make do without it. If the profits generated from that community cannot rebuild the infrastructure, the community members will have to commute to a point where they can find such services. This is the law of basic supply and demand. If people destroy services, it proves that there is no demand for that service. The profit margin needs to be high enough to prove adequate demand.

If the market mechanism cannot solve a specific problem, we have to agree that there is no alternative solution at all. Any attempt at fixing an unsolvable problem will inflate the problem until it becomes everybody else’s problem. Socialism is one big disastrous uncurable headache.

My experience is that it takes 6 – 8 weeks to refurbish an ATM – with 1400 requiring refurbishing/replacement BASA is dreaming if all are up and running within 2 months. Those that are damaged beyond repair would have to be replaced which could take up to 2 months just to order and ship let alone reconfiguring to the SA market requirements

End of comments.

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