Reserve Bank says looted banknotes are being used in South Africa

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) says that the looting and unrest over the past week have resulted in some banking infrastructure being damaged, including some automated teller machines (ATMs).

The central bank said that ATMs are equipped with technology to stain banknotes in case of attack. This process of protecting the banknotes defaces them so that they carry no monetary value for people who invade ATMs, the SARB said.

“The SARB wishes to advise the public to be aware and cautious of accepting banknotes that have been stained with traces of blue or green ink,” it said. “Note that these banknotes are considered the proceeds of crime and have no value and cannot be exchanged.

“Members of the public are therefore strongly encouraged not to accept such banknotes, and to report such incidents to the nearest police station.”

How the dye-stain works

ATMs hold cash in special containers that protect the notes with dye-stain technology that is activated when someone tries to break open the container.

Once activated, the cash is stained with a green dye, thus defacing the notes, rendering them unusable as currency. The stained notes are recognised as having no monetary value once they are stained.

People who are in possession of these notes make themselves suspects of a criminal investigation that will seek to determine if they were involved in the stealing and unauthorised access of these ATM containers, said the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric).

Sabric said it has also noticed an increase in the attempted circulation of dye-stained notes in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, following the destruction of multiple ATMs.

The people of South Africa are cautioned against accepting these dye-stained notes as legal tender as the onward use and value of these notes will not be honoured, said Sabric chief executive Nischal Mewalall.

“You may also find yourself out of pocket after releasing goods or performing services because you will not be able to utilise the currency you were paid with.

“In addition, you also run the risk of being investigated, arrested, and prosecuted for the destruction of these ATMs.”


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