Who’d want to work for a bank in South Africa? If violent attacks on ATMs weren’t enough – more than 500 were bombed last year – then the ATMs themselves start turning on you. In a desperate attempt to stem the growing tide of crime, Absa Bank fitted pepper spray to 11 cash machines in Western Cape, a popular tourist area. But, so far, the spray has only prevented three maintenance workers from doing their jobs.

The theory seemed good, if a little over-the-top: fit high-risk ATMs with cameras that detect if anyone is tampering with the machine’s slots, which are the usual targets for bombs and credit-card skimming devices. The camera then triggers a second machine, emitting a cloud of pepper spray which, the theory goes, would sufficiently disorient the would-be thieves until the police got there.

Unfortunately, the camera can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys and so, in the course of routine maintenance, three bank employees were maced and required emergency medical treatment. Surprisingly, the bank intends to continue with the trial which, if successful, will be rolled out to ATMs around the country. Beware.