Jewellery robberies on the rise in S.Africa


According to the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA), a member based organisation representing over 11 000 companies in retail, wholesale and manufacturing of consumer goods, financial losses from armed jewellery robberies rose from 12.9 million rand to 16.8 million rand in 2013.

However, with the launch of the Jewellery Risk Initiative Forum by the Consumer Goods Risk initiative (CGRI), CGCSA is aiming to bring down these crime statistics.

“We’ve created a jewellery initiative where the jewellers have joined forces and appointed us. We are observing, and collecting information and data on all the armed robberies and other incidences occurring in the jewellery space,” James Oosthuizen, head of CGRI told CNBC Africa.

Oosthuizen further explained that once all collected data has been analysed, the CGRI releases its findings in a report which is made available to the consumer goods industries as well as to the South African Police Service.

According to the Jewellery Risk Initiative Forum, aggravated robberies are becoming a national threat, with the jewellery trade becoming the target of violent crimes.

Oosthuizen explained that jewellery is highly targeted by criminals as it is easy to conceal or change its appearance.

“They [criminals] go for what they could hide easily on their person or that they could sell easily. They could also change the way the jewellery looks. You can melt it down and change its appearance so you can hide where it comes from so it’s more difficult to detect,” he said.

To fight this challenge, the Jewellery Risk Initiative Forum seeks to form effective partnerships between retailers, management and government, and is further designed to enable the sharing of capacities and services among jewellery council member and other stakeholders.  

Oosthuizen added that the information sharing with the police has been quite successful as it informs them on which areas or shopping centres are hotspots for criminal activity.

(READ MORE: Information sharing necessary to combat crime in S.Africa)

The CGRI have also developed the Amavuso SMS instant Alert System, a technological innovation that sends out an instant alert to all members of the CGCSA, warnings them about high level crimes occurring in their vicinity.

“Amavuso is linked to the South African Police Service, which uses that as a quick alert system to become aware of certain incidences of crime so we share best practices by means of the Amavuso,” added Oosthuizen.

Once members receive the Amavuso alert message, they must place large amounts of cash in drop safes, ensure that security guards are alerted, and if they see the perpetrators, they need to press their panic buttons immediately to summon the police.

The council believes that the Amavuso system, which means warning in Zulu, is an invaluable weapon in the armoury of both the police and business at all levels.