Author delves into SA cash-heist wave
SHE was a founder member and co-executive producer of the SABC’s hard-hitting Special Assignment for nine years, but now the former face of the investigative news show, Anneliese Burgess, lives in sleepy Sunrise-on-Sea east near East London where she has written Heist! South Africa’s Cash-In-Transit Epidemic Uncovered.
Since moving to the coast Burgess has not slipped into a lethargic, seaside existence, nor has her journalistic drive been dulled.
In fact her recently launched book, which delves into the iniquitous heart of these crimes is meticulously investigated and written with the story-telling skill of a great investigative journalist.
Her book dubs cash-in-transit heists as “a national crime emergency”.
“This is not random crime,” said Burgess, who was born in Indwe and landed up living back in the region six years ago.
“It is highly organised and highly lucrative and astronomical amounts of money just disappear into the criminal economy.”
She said one of the most shocking outcomes of her investigation was how little of the stolen money was found.
“In the 10 heists featured in my book, almost half-a-billion rands was netted. Of that, only about R33-million was ever recovered and R14-million of that was subsequently re-stolen from a police vault.”
Another alarming upshot of her probe was the fact that members of the police were complicit in seven of the 10 heists she wrote about.
In one heist where R104-million was stolen in Witbank, the gang leader was a police detective. “He was one of the first responders at the crime scene, taking statements and pretending to be a police officer when he was in fact the mastermind behind the whole thing . . . the involvement of police in this crime is deep.”
And, while she refers to her book as an uncovering rather than an exposé, Burgess said she also wanted to write a “rollicking cops and robbers story”.
“I wanted it to be a good read in the ‘true crime’ genre. My favourite part of the book is the accounts of the cops and prosecutors who bring these criminals to book.”