Save money or save life?

By Vision Reporter

Added 23rd May 2001 03:00 AM

Robbery of large sums of cash with violence has continued in different parts of Kampala, recently.

By Chibita wa Duallo Robbery of large sums of cash with violence has continued in different parts of Kampala, recently. The plot is almost always similar: Money is withdrawn from the bank. On the way to its destination, there is a violent robbery. Sometimes there is no loss of life. Often times, life is lost. Once in a long while the robbers are gunned down either in their attempt to rob. Most times though, the casualties are the people transporting the money and innocent bystanders. Last week it was reported that sh60m was robbed and three people killed and another three injured in the crossfire. The robbers seem to have escaped with their loot intact. The Police was left once again in the unenviable position of reminding the public how dangerous it is to transport large sums of money in cars without adequate security. In last week's case, there was an armed Police Constable and private guard in the saloon car ostensibly providing escort to the money. Unfortunately, in the ensuing gunfire, they stood no chance. This is mainly because of the nature of a saloon car. It has very little room for manoeuvring a firearm. Moreover, they were dealing with robbers who must have known their every movement. They must have known when and where they were getting the money; how many people were in the car and how many were armed. The attack was planned with precision. Having talked to friend who suffered a robbery at gunpoint, it is not far-fetched to conclude thus. In the case of our friend, he was stopped and immediately ordered to hand over his pistol. They asked for the sh5m and to help them start the car to prevent it locking itself. The robbers had definitely done their homework. On the other hand, the victims are mostly ignorant of the fact that they are being trailed, except knowing in a general sense that being in possession of such large sums of money makes them likely targets. As such, no adequate precaution can be put in place to counter such a robbery. According to Police, transporting large sums of money can be done safely by arranging for appropriate Police escort. Many private security firms have specialised vehicles to transport such money. The question then arises as to why such offers are not taken up. Why do people take such risks transporting money unaccompanied by adequate security? It is possible that for every successful robbery we hear about, there are many successful cases of clandestine transportation of cash. People therefore figure that the probability that they will be robbed is very minimal. The other motivation for such risky transfers of money is cost saving. Getting adequate Police or other security escort must cost some money. The temptation to save such money must be great. It only turns out to be foolhardy in case all of the money and life is lost in the ensuing robbery. Yet this is one area where Government cannot do much. There are laws against aggravated robbery and murder. These may deter most people from engaging in crime. Yet you only need a gang to disregard the law and take a risk with their lives. For such people, sh60m is a handsome sum worth the risk. Government could pass a law against transporting money without adequate security. This, however, cannot be applied against somebody who has been killed in a robbery that was meant to be prevented in the first place. Ultimately, therefore, it is upon the individuals or companies involved in transporting money that have to weigh the risk of transporting money casually against the cost of providing adequate security. Government can only go so far in ensuring that crime is prevented. With mobile phones and other communication gadgets, it is much easier for robbers to coordinate their activities and outwit Police. Most banks have tried to discourage use of mobile phones in their halls, but you never know who is involved in the criminal gang. This is one case where prevention is definitely much better than cure.

Save money or save life?

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