As the Christmas shopping period creeps ever so closely, Gauteng has been at the centre of a spate of robberies aimed at mobile phone and consumer electronic stores. In the last couple of weeks, as many as ten shops have been targeted, with the latest one happening on Monday night at The Glen shopping centre. The Glen, Centurion and Cresta‘s iStores were all robbed in the space of two weeks.
The situation has now become so serious that the police is offering a reward of up to R200 000 for information that leads to the arrest of those who have been responsible. But the investigations haven’t been fruitless, as five suspected robbers have been arrested in Brixton and Doornfontein on charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
“During the arrest police confiscated a 9mm pistol and three semi-automatic rifles as well as 97 live rounds of ammunition,” said Gauteng police commissioner Lesetja Mothiba in a media briefing on Tuesday.
Mothiba also confirmed that mobile phones have been the major target of all the robberies.
“[For] 95 percent of robberies so far, cellphones are the target. Cash is minimal, [but] in two incidents cash was [taken]. Both incidents occurred in Soweto: one at Maponya mall and another at the Black Chain shopping centre in Diepkloof.”
Highlighting the issue of security around shopping centres and malls, Mothiba said that standards were not met, and with Christmas coming up very quickly, that could pose a problem for malls across the country.
“As things stand, these criminals committed these crimes very easily. We would want to see mall security taking that seriously. We have set up meetings with mall management to beef up security… as well as looking at their security systems at the premises.”