There has been a spate of robberies in Gauteng in the last month that has left shoppers and residents all worried about their shopping experiences and safety in shopping malls. The latest was a mini cash heist in the popular Maponya Mall in Soweto where the gunmen are said to have made away with bags of cash.
In the Maponya Mall robbery, the police confirm that six gunmen approached two security guards who were carrying bags of cash from stores in the mall. The police add that one shot was fired but that no one was injured and the robbers are said to have made off with two bags of cash. The police are looking for the six suspects. In another similar incident in Gauteng on the same day, two suspects are said to have held up staff at a cellphone shop in the Northgate Shopping Mall adjacent to the Coca cola Dome earlier in the day. At the time of going to press, there were no reports of anyone that had been injured and that no shot had been fired.
Residents in all areas of Gauteng have expressed concern at the amount of robberies that have been occurring in shopping malls across the province. Within the last month, there have been other robberies that have occurred. Even though police have not confirmed a link in the robberies, it is difficult to miss the similarities, at least, of the targets of most of the robberies. Earlier in August, an istore at the Cresta Shopping Centre was held up and robbed of gadgets worth thousands of rands. A mere twenty four hours later, another istore at the Glen Shopping Mall south of Johannesburg was also robbed. In this case, a security guard was wounded in the leg during the robbery. Police confirmed that again, iPhones and iPads worth more than one million rand were stolen. Just over a week later, another istore, this time in Centurion, was held up by eight gunmen who made away with laptops, tablets and iPads and iPhones worth more than one million rands. In getting away, the robbers are said to have opened fire even though no one was reported to have been injured.
The robberies have been safe thus far with no one being injured critically or killed. Several issues need to be addressed and to be reviewed from a different perspective. Is this how it will stay or is it going to get worse? How are the workers feeling in stores that have been held up and how about those workers in the istores and shopping complexes that have not yet been robbed? What about the effect on the business for those shops that have been targeted and indeed those that have not. How safe do the people there feel? Most importantly, how much damage are these, seemingly minor, incidents having on the image of South Africa in other countries; countries we rely heavily for tourism and other forms of trade. A lot needs to be done to arrest this situation before it gets out of hand and more innocent lives are lost and the country’s image suffers irreparable damage.