Ring of steel put around SA’s malls
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