Members of the Gun Owners of South Africa (GOSA) are outraged at Canal Walk’s security and safety policy of no firearms slamming it as a “security theatre”. The busy shopping centre has had to beef up security at its entry points and inside the mall, following a spate of robberies of late. But angry gun owners are up in arms and a group called Firearms Owners Boycott Canal Walk (FOBCW) has emerged on Facebook. They find the policy an attempt at window dressing to lead shoppers to believe that Canal Walk is a haven. However, they believe that if people are disarmed they are in grave danger.
Four robberies have occurred at Canal Walk in the past two months. Over the past week, the mall has implemented random searches a performed on people who visit the centre in an attempt to reduce the danger of those in the mall. The policy prohibits anyone with a firearm from entering the mall.
“After implementing these procedures they have made everyone less safe. Legal firearm owners can assist in protecting the people in the mall in times of danger. The policy is ridiculous as legal firearm owners are not the problem, and a mugger expose himself before the time he attacks,” said GOSA executive Paul Oxley.
GOSA has criticised the policy as “impractical” as it believes the new measures will have no meaningful effect on reducing crime occurring at the mall nor will it make Canal Walk a safer place.
“This is a security theatre by Canal Walk to make it look like they are doing something. There is no guarantee that restricting legal firearm owners of the premises increases the security. It certainly does not decrease the security,” says Oxley.
Rather, Oxley believes the policy encourages robberies and by disarming firearm owners, they are making the mall a hotspot for crime.
“It is an invitation to muggers saying Canal Walk is open for business by not allowing people to carry their firearms. They can wait for people once they go to the stores, banks or parkade and rob them as they will be unarmed,” says Oxley.
Members of FOBCW distrustful of the reasons why the mall’s management has enforced this procedure.
“Why should they come down on legal firearm owners and try to give people the impression that they are doing something and they are not,” says founder of FOBCW, John Harley.
FOBCW claims that for qualified firearm owners, carrying a gun is a sense of security.
“I can fire a warning shot and intervene if I have my gun on me but if I don’t I can’t do anything,” says Harley.
“A robber knows if he runs into security or off duty policeman at Canal Walk he is alright as they are unarmed.”
A member of FOBCW Gildeon Joubert claims that unarmed customers in the mall are an open invitation for an armed robbery.
“Criminals are illegal firearm owners. Canal Walk is just doing this as window dressing,” says Joubert.
Canal Walk was unavailable for comment. VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)