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National team to probe Gauteng mall robberies

Several malls have been hit in recent weeks including Maponya Mall and Northgate Mall.

A national team of detectives has been assigned to help their local counterparts investigate a spate of violent mall robberies. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Police Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba has confirmed a national team of detectives has been assigned to help their local counterparts investigate a spate of violent mall robberies.

The Maponya Mall in Soweto and Northgate Mall were targeted yesterday while several others have been hit in recent weeks.

While Mothiba played down the recent attacks, saying they are isolated, he says provincial detectives will be assisted in catching the culprits.

"The investigation is being led from national and we are hoping to make a breakthrough very soon."

Business Against Crime Chief Executive Simmi Pillay-van Graan says the organisation is concerned by the recent escalation in violent crime, particularly at malls.

"I think what's really fuelling the trend is the fact that there is opportunity and we can only close those opportunities if we work together and business becomes more proactive."

The organisation is trying to roll-out a high-tech number plate recognition system to businesses across the country.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) says the recent spike is a continuation of an upward trend experienced over the past three years.

The ISS's Johan Burger says crime intelligence is required to address the issue.

SPATE OF ROBBERIES

An iStore was targeted at the Centurion Mall on 22 August, the third such outlet to be hit in the province in less than a month.

On 13 August, a shopper was shot and wounded when a gang of men stormed the iStore at Cresta Shopping Centre in Johannesburg. The robbers made off with bags full of iPhones and iPads.

Twenty-four hours later, the iStore at the Glen Shopping Centre in southern Johannesburg was also robbed.

A security guard was wounded in the leg when at least seven men robbed the shop, fleeing with electronics worth more than R1 million.

Also last month, a jewellery store in Rosebank was robbed by two men who held staff at gunpoint, ordering them to load jewellery into bags before fleeing.

In June, a gang robbed a jewellery store at the newly built Cradlestone Mall in Muldersdrift.

The men allegedly held staff at gunpoint before making off with several items.