Ring of steel put around SA’s malls

CityPress - - News - NTOMBI­ZODWA MAKHOBA ntombi­zodwa@city­press.co.za

Po­lice of­fi­cers and se­cu­rity guards in plain clothes, in­creased use of CCTV cam­eras and boom gates with spikes. Th­ese are some of the mea­sures that shop­ping malls through­out the coun­try have em­barked upon to keep fes­tive shop­pers se­cure from rob­beries.

The po­lice have de­ployed cadets straight out of train­ing to pa­trol malls, a move that has not gone down well with the Po­lice and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru).

The union is ac­cus­ing po­lice bosses of putting up in­ex­pe­ri­enced rook­ies against the heav­ily armed crim­i­nals who tar­get shop­ping malls.

“We pro­mote safety at our malls, but not at the risk of stu­dent con­sta­bles who are not com­pe­tent in firearm use. They are given uni­forms and sent out with ba­tons,” said Popcru spokesper­son Richard Mam­abolo.

“We all know crim­i­nals are heav­ily armed and, as we have seen in re­cent in­ci­dents, do not hes­i­tate to shoot uni­formed of­fi­cers.

“The trainees don’t even know how to make a le­gal ar­rest, and be­cause they have yet to com­plete their train­ing, they are not ready to be thrown into the deep end – in hot spots like malls where of­fi­cers have al­ready been killed.

“Their lives are be­ing put at risk if they are ex­pected to go up against armed rob­bers with­out firearms.”

Na­tional po­lice spokesper­son Bri­gadier Vishnu Naidoo said in­creased po­lice vis­i­bil­ity at shop­ping malls was suc­cess­ful and had been widely wel­comed.

“The pre­ven­tion of crime falls within the am­bit of polic­ing and is re­alised through po­lice vis­i­bil­ity, among other things,” he said.

“In our en­deav­our to en­sure that the peo­ple of South Africa feel safe, shop­ping cen­tres and malls have been pri­ori­tised through in­creased po­lice vis­i­bil­ity to re­alise proac­tive polic­ing and cre­ate a feel­ing of safety for all who have con­verged there for var­i­ous rea­sons.”

Maponya Mall cen­tre man­ager Ren­dani Phaswana told City Press on Thurs­day that a large num­ber of po­lice of­fi­cers had been pa­trolling the mall since last week.

He said no rob­beries had taken place at the mall since the start of the fes­tive sea­son.

“It’s bet­ter to be ready now than to be [caught off guard] when some­thing hap­pens,” Phaswana said.

Head of the Con­sumer Goods Coun­cil of SA Gra­ham Wright said his or­gan­i­sa­tion wel­comed the in­creased po­lice pres­ence at shop­ping malls.

“All I can say is that malls have beefed up their se­cu­rity and are work­ing with the po­lice. Re­tail­ers have largely wel­comed the po­lice vis­i­bil­ity at malls,” added Wright.

It is un­der­stood that po­lice of­fi­cers have also been de­ployed in­side se­cu­rity con­trol rooms to part­ner with shop­ping mall se­cu­rity at some of the big­ger cen­tres.

Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Poloko Tau

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