Mall Robberies: shoppers’ safety cannot depend on business-as-usual approach

Dan Plato, MPP

Western Cape Minister of Community Safety

The Western Cape Government will continue to monitor the role shopping centres, its management and their private security play to ensure the safety of shoppers in the province.

I will include shopping centres and complexes on my oversight list going forward. This, as an attempt to not only ensure the safety of people in the province but to also build meaningful partnerships with the privates sector, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Department of Community Safety in the Western Cape towards safer environments.

These steps follows a very successful meeting held today between the Provincial SAPS management, the Department of Community Safety and the management of one of the province hardest hit malls in the last month, Canal Walk.

I welcome the fact that all parties understood the severity of the situation and have undertaken to address it with the necessary urgency. I also welcome the unilateral agreement from all parties involved that the recent spate of robberies at shops and shopping centres cannot rely on a business-as-usual approach to security measures and interventions.

Though I cannot divulge the specific measurements taken by the Canal Walk management or broader interventions put in place by the SAPS to investigate and clamp down on these incidents; I am confident that SAPS’ willingness to assist mall management and the proactive measures taken by the Canal Walk management, in this instance, will help protect both the people frequenting the establishment and the tenants of the establishment.

I urge shopping centres and stores across the province to ensure that their security measures are not only sufficient but of a good quality as well. Security provision is a lucrative business in South Africa. Shop and mall management should ensure their service providers adhere to the industry standards. For example, where CCTV cameras are in use, these should be well maintained (clean lenses for instance), the feed should be of good quality (to be able to identify people), and the camera angles should be considered as well.

Shopping centres and its management should also form working partnerships with their local SAPS stations and the provincial SAPS for assistance where necessary.

The police cannot be everywhere at the same time. It is everyone’s responsibility to help ensure safety where we live, work, and shop.

The people of the province should assist the police with information and identikits where incidents occur, alert the police or security to suspicious behaviour and never take their own safety for granted.

Through a united approach, by working Better Together, we can close down the loopholes through which these opportunistic robbers operate.