Woman hu­mil­i­ated by al­leged strip-search or­deal

The Witness - - NEWS - NOMPILO KUNENE •­ nompilo.kunene@wit­ness.co.za

A­WOMAN­from­France­town­ship­was­ left­ “hu­mil­i­ated­ and­ em­bar­rassed”af­ter­ she­ was­ ac­cused­ of­shoplift­ing­and­claims­to­have­been­strip-searched­in­a­city­su­per­mar­ket.

Elis­a­beth­Ric­Hansen,­the­mar­ket­ing­man­ager­of­the­store,­Game,said­it­was­not­their­pol­icy­to­strip­-search­ cus­tomers­ sus­pected­ of­shoplift­ing­but­al­leged­that­it­wasthe­woman­who­in­sisted­to­“lift­her­clothes­to­show­them­proof”­that­she­had­not­stolen­any­thing.

Nom­buso­ Dlamini­ (54),­ whosells­veg­eta­bles­on­East­Street,­said­she­had­vis­ited­Game­to­open­anac­count­ when­ the­ in­ci­dent­ oc­curred.

“As­I­was­walk­ing­out­of­the­storethe­se­cu­rity­beams­started­beepin­gand­the­se­cu­rity­guard­asked­me­ifI­had­stolen­any­thing­from­the­shopand­I­said­no.­He­took­my­bag­an­dran­it­through­the­beams­but­they­didn’t­ go­ off.­ When­ I­ walkedthrough­ they­ started­ beepin­ga­gain,”­she­said.

Dlamini­was­then­in­structed­towait­near­the­tills,­she­said­she­ended­up­wait­ing­there­for­about­three­hours.­“While­I­was­stand­ing­there,other­ cus­tomers,­ staff­ mem­bers­ and­some­peo­ple­I­knew­from­myneigh­bour­hood­ asked­ why­ I­ was­stand­ing­there­and­I­had­to­tell­themthat­I­was­ac­cused­of­shoplift­ing.It­was­so­de­grad­ing­and­hu­mil­i­at­ing,I­ felt­ so­ lit­tle­ and­ I­ ended­ upin­tears,”­she­said.

Even­tu­ally­the­store­man­ager­was­called­and­he­al­legedly­in­structed­afe­male­se­cu­rity­guard­and­a­storeem­ployee­ to­ take­ Dlamini­ to­ the­back­and­strip-search­her.

Dlamini­said­af­ter­the­two­women­were­sat­is­fied­that­she­had­not­stolen­any­thing,­the­man­ager­was­called­in,­along­with­other­em­ploy­ees­and­they­started­apol­o­gis­ing­for falsely­ac­cus­ing­her.

“They­said­I­should­take­what­ever­I­wanted­from­the­store­but­I­re­fused,”­said­Dlamini.

The­po­lice­were­called­and­the­yarrived­at­the­store­af­ter­8­pm.­She­has­ hired­ a­ lawyer­ to­ han­dle­ the­mat­ter.

Hansen­ said­ the­ store’s­ pol­i­cy­was­ that­ rea­son­able­ sus­pi­cionswould­be­in­ves­ti­gated­by­re­quest­ingthe­ cus­tomer­ to­ step­ aside­ frompub­lic­ view­ and­ con­duct­ a­ bagsearch.

“The­store­did­not­feel­it­was­nec­es­saryto­ call­ the­ po­lice­ and­ werepre­pared­to­let­this­cus­tomer­[go]­ very­shortly­af­ter­the­sen­so­mat­ic­salarmed,­but­[Dlamini]­in­sisted­on­call­ing­the­po­lice­and­wait­ing­ac­cord­ingly­to­prove­her­in­no­cence,”she­said.

Hansen­de­nied­that­Dlamini­wa­sof­fered­any­thing­at­the­store­as­anapol­ogy.­“The­store­apol­o­gised­and­of­fered­ fur­ther­ as­sis­tance­ to­ the­cus­tomer­should­she­re­quire­trans­port­from­the­store,”­she­said.

Pi­eter­mar­itzburg­po­lice­spokesper­son­Sergeant­Mthokozisi­Ngobese­said­no­case­was­reg­is­tered­bu­tadded:­“Stores­are­not­al­lowed­tostrip-search­cus­tomers,­if­they­sus­pect­that­some­one­has­shoplifted,the­po­lice­should­be­called­to­in­ves­ti­gate­fur­ther.”

PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

Nom­bu­soDlamini­ (54)­ ­ was­ ac­cusedof­ shopliftin­gat­ a­ Game­store­ in­ thecity­ cen­tre­and­ al­legesshe­ was­ kept­wait­ing­ in­view­ of­ oth­er­cus­tomers­ and­later­strip-searched.

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