Armoured vehicles, nyalas to patrol Gauteng's malls

Eleven shopping centred have been target in Gauteng in the past month.

FILE: Gauteng police says armoured vehicles and nyalas will now patrol outside malls in the province following a spate of robberies in the past month. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng police says armoured vehicles and nyalas will now patrol outside malls in the province following a spate of robberies in the past month.

Eleven shopping centres have been targeted in the past month and in most cases, gangs have held up staff at gadget stores.

Police believe they have now made a breakthrough following several arrests this morning.

Gauteng Police Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba said authorities are investigating whether there is a possible link between the robberies.

"We've appointed the provincial head of policing to go and inspect all the malls to look at the level of security."

Police are also offering a R200,000 reward for any information that may lead to the arrest and successful prosecution of these criminals.

"We're worried because in 95 percent of the robberies cellphones are stolen. Where are the cellphones being taken?"

Mothiba said they will be talking to the various municipalities to address the minimal security features required when building new shopping centres.

Gauteng police have also now appointed a team to inspect all shopping centres in the province and ensure security is stepped up.

Authorities have now released screenshots from CCTV footage at the centres.

At the same time, Gauteng police have recovered a vehicle believed to have been used in a robbery at the Black Chain Shopping Centre Diepkloof, .

The police believe the vehicle was used in the mall robbery on Saturday in which a security guard was shot and killed and three others injured.

Mothiba said his team is interrogating the suspect.

Gauteng malls under attack : Armed robberies 13 August - 8 September 2014.

ROBBERS TARGETING SOFT TARGETS

The spate of robberies at malls targeting high-end electronic devices is being seen as a case of criminals opting for soft targets with the same rewards as cash.

Tech expert Arthur Goldstuck said with the right technology, stolen devices are easily unlocked and sold on the black market or in neighbouring countries.

"The criminals are seeing the tech stores as alternatives to banks now that the security at banks is at a higher level. They need products that can easily be turned into cash."

At the same time, Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko yesterday said the recent spate of robberies at shopping malls across Gauteng is a manifestation of the violent nature of South African communities.

He said he is disturbed by the spate of violent crime in the province, but added police on their own cannot combat crime without the involvement of communities.

"You need to have a broader community engagement to begin to look at how we deal with these sorts of tendencies amongst ourselves."

Nhleko also called on ordinary members of society to submit anonymous tip-offs to police about any suspected criminal activity in their communities.