Spate of Armed Robbery puts Shopping Malls on guard

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Shoppers waiting outside Maponya Mall in Soweto, where an attempted armed robbery took place inside Pick n Pay on 17 December 2014. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN. Shoppers waiting outside Maponya Mall in Soweto, where an attempted armed robbery took place inside Pick n Pay on 17 December 2014. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN.

A recent spate of shopping centre heists in South Africa ahead of the festive season has prompted fears that organised criminals are turning their attention to these soft targets.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) have confirmed that there was an attempted robbery on Wednesday at the Pick n Pay in Maponya Mall in Soweto.

Seven robbers entered the back of the store but were soon engaged by mall security and fled the scene before they could get away with any items.

No injuries were reported and Police are now on the hunt for armed men.

With cellphone shops, electronics stores and jewellery stores being targeted, the latest mall robbery in Khayelitsha Mall brings the total up to 20 armed robberies in the last 2 months in Cape Town alone.

While in Gauteng, scores of violent robberies at malls were recorded in the last 3 months.

Khayelitsha Community Trust CEO Mkhululi Gaula confirmed that Khayelitsha Mall in Western Cape had also been the target of criminals.

He said they had taken some measures to ensure the safety of businesses and customers in the area.

"Prior to the improvement of security at the mall, it was open and there were many getaway exits for criminals," he said.

"We used to have armed robberies at the mall once a week.

"We then appointed a security company to install gates to address the openness and getaway exits by criminals."

Canal Walk Mall's CEO, Gavin Wood, said their management had recently met police and community safety MEC Dan Plato in a bid to ensure safe shopping in the area.

He said a full risk assessment of the shopping centre had been conducted.

"We have increased our security personnel and have also deployed more undercover guards," he added.

Wood said they were introducing further technology which enhanced their existing CCTV and other security infrastructure.

The mall will be conducting random security searches at various entrances.

In addition, Wood said, perimeter fencing and improved access control would be installed before the festive season.

Police spokesman Andre Traut said a suspect had recently been arrested in connection with a robbery which took place at Canal Walk Mall.

The police were investigating whether a syndicate was responsible for the spate of robberies at malls and small complexes, he said.


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