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South Africa's Absa fits ATMs with pepper spray

15 July 2009  |  13219 views  |  2 caution!

A plan by South African bank Absa to deter criminals from bombing its ATMs by fitting them with pepper spray backfired last week when a rogue machine attacked maintenance workers.

According to local news site Independent Online, the bank, in conjunction with police, has fitted 11 cash machines across the Cape Peninsula with cameras and spray canisters.

When the cameras detect that someone is tampering with card slots - either to install a bomb or skimming machine - the pepper spray is ejected, disorientating the culprit, giving police time to reach the site.

However, last week a machine in Fish Hoek accidentally sprayed three people during a routine maintenance inspection, leaving them requiring treatment from paramedics.

According to the Guardian, the number of cash machines blown up in South Africa has risen from 54 in 2006 to 387 in 2007 and nearly 500 last year.

ATMs fitted with pepper spray - Independent Online

Comments: (2)

Keith Richbell
Keith Richbell - eftpos Payments Australia Ltd. (ePAL) - Sydney | 15 July, 2009, 23:05

I am appalled at this idea. Is this the same twisted logic that says the world would be a safer place if we all carried guns? That suicide bombers should be subject to the death penalty? Its only money. Is it acceptable that bank customers might accidentally be blinded when these devices malfunction for the sake of a few thousand banknotes? Go hang your head in shame Absa. You are a disgrace to civilised society. So too are your major shareholders, Barclays bank for allowing this development.

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 16 July, 2009, 11:22

Luckily ATM 'blower upperers' don't wear gas mask and goggles blowing up your ATM, eh/ although I guess your maintenance worker's union will be asking for some new safety gear.

Perhaps 44 magnum remotely controlled guns? Oh wait, the 'blower upperers' will only just wear bulletproof vests.

Absa has undoubtedly proven they are incapable of an original innovation, or a single intelligent idea. Copying seldom does turns out as well as the original but I don't think we'll see anyone claiming this lack of brilliance as their own.

500 ATM's being blown up is clearly a symptom of a larger social issue and the effort may be better spent there, although I doubt we want Absa's approach applied to wider society, do we?

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