9 July 2010
USELESS COPS: Retailers at Gugulethu shopping mall are crying foul over a lack of police action following incidents of shoplifting.
Gugulethu Mall ‘not safe for business’
ANGRY retailers at the R350 million Gugulethu Square shopping mall have accused police of “protecting criminals” amid a rising number of crime.
The mall is home to several mainstream retailers and was opened amid pomp and fanfare last October.
Eight months down the line retailers are saying “it’s not safe to do business” and accusing the police at Gugulethu station of turning a blind eye to shoplifting and “grab and runs”.
The retailers say they are “sick and tired” of reporting cases without further action being taken.
They also say “it’s useless to call the police” since they are being forced to double as “managers and police”.
Mbongiseni Hlatshwayo, a manager at Mr Price, says he had reported six cases of shoplifting to the police since October but no action was taken against any of the suspects. He says some of the suspects repeatedly stole from his shops without fear of arrest.
Hlatshwayo says he had video footage of crimes taking place in his shop but did not know what to do with them “since the police are reluctant to take action”.
He claims to have lost more than R3500 so far as a result of shoplifting. He challenges the police to “do their job.”
Legit store manager Sibeko Lethu says the police “don’t care” and “it’s a waste of time” calling them in the event of crime.
For example, she says, in one incident they caught a lady stealing jeans. The police arrested her but released her afterwards.
“This lady now brags about it,” Lethu says. “Sometimes the police disrespect you in front of criminals. We don’t call them anymore. It’s a waste of time.”
Asanda Phukwana, Exact store manager, says the “police take hours to respond … so we just let the suspects go. Recently we had to sit with a criminal for hours waiting for police”.
She says the following day the suspect was back in the mall, bragging that nothing had happened to him.
“We are not trained to be security guards or police,” she says. “We are scared of these criminals. They say they will get us.
“We try to help each other. Today it is our shop and tomorrow it is the one next door,” Phukwana says.
Sasa Ncebelele, a manager at Fashion Express, says: “I really don’t know what is happening with the police. We are losing so much stock our bosses are complaining.”
Captain Elliot Sinyangana of the Gugulethu police station flatly denies the allegations. He says: “It is clear that there is an exaggeration in the report made by your informants.”
He says he believes the allegations are “unfounded and cannot be substantiated”.
“The police do not release suspects. All are sent to court and what happens there is outside our authority,” Sinyangana says.
He says they have records to prove that they arrested all suspects for shoplifting and sent them to court for prosecution.
Sinyangana says: “The station is ready to address any problems our business community encounters at any time.’’