Police have appealed to shoppers to take caution when visiting any shopping mall amid a spate of brazen criminal attacks on stores and shoppers of late. On Monday, police nabbed a Manenberg woman, suspected of making purchases on a stolen credit card she had snatched from an elderly woman at the salah khana in Canal Walk a few hours earlier.
The 30 year old Manenberg woman, named Kulsum Hendricks, had attempted to purchase R4000 worth of shoes on credit at Edgars at Vangate Mall, when she was apprehended by the centre’s security guards. The Edgars card was the property of a 67 year old woman from Manenberg whose purse was stolen while she was performing her Asr salah.
“I spoke to her and I still asked her if she want to use the chair and I said no. We were the only ones in the salah khana. She was however pacing up and down while I was making salah,” says the 67 year old woman, who asked not to be named.
The purse not only contained her account cards, bank cards, driver’s licence but also her parking ticket and money. In a panic the woman informed Canal Walk security who apparently reacted slowly to the situation.
“I was stranded. I didn’t have my parking ticket… no cards and no money,” says the woman.
After Hendricks attempted to make a purchase with one of the stolen cards, Edgars informed the elderly woman that a purchase was being made in her name.
“They called me to ask if I was that particular lady on the card. After responding with a yes, they said there was a lady claiming to be me trying to buy things on my card. She had been trying to make a purchase of R4000 on my card. I informed them my bag was stolen,” she recalled.
The suspect was immediately detained by Vangate security guards and arrested by police. She was later charged with fraud and appeared before the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
Police have advised shoppers to be and vigilant in shopping centres, amid a spike in robberies at malls across the city recently. Canal Walk was targeted thrice in two weeks.
“Shoppers especially women are to treat their handbag with great caution and not to leave it unattended,” said Western Cape SAPS spokesperson FC Van Wyk.
In light of the recent spate of mall robberies in the centre and other malls around the Western Cape, Canal Walk centre management said they have tightened security measures to ensure the safety of both tenants and the public.
“The series of incidents that have occurred at Canal Walk and other shopping centres in Cape Town are a huge concern to us. We take security extremely seriously,” said Canal Walk’s CEO Gavin Wood.”
Due to the increase in shopping mall robberies and change in the crime pattern, a full-risk assessment of the shopping mall was conducted. Based on the findings and input from SAPS, Century City Property Association (CCPOA), security specialists and retailers, Wood said they have increased security personnel and deployed more undercover guards.
“We will be introducing further technology, which enhances our existing CCTV and other security infrastructure.”
He added that the shopping centre’s security personnel will be conducting frequent, but random stop-and-searches at the various entrances. In addition, perimeter fencing and access control will be installed before the busy season.
“SAPS presence will be enhanced on site. We will continue to work closely with Century City Precinct security who incorporate number plate recognition at their entrances.”
Wood added that in addition to the existing response vehicle, tactical response vehicles have been deployed on the perimeter of the property in the event of an incident occurring. Centre Management has also engaged with high-risk tenants to reassess security measures at store-level.
Canal Walk’s management has already met with SAPS at local and provincial level.
“We have also confirmed a meeting with Community Safety MEC, Dan Plato with regards to the issues,” Wood said.
“Finding a solution requires the involvement of all stakeholders.” VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)