Mothiba: Security at Gauteng's malls not up to standard

Eleven Gauteng malls have been targeted in the past month alone.

Gauteng Police Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba addresses the media on 9 September, 2014 on the recent spate of mall robberies in Gauteng. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng police have now appointed a team to inspect all shopping centres in the province and ensure security is stepped up in the wake of 11 robberies in the past month.

A total of eight gadget stores have been targeted in the province while police are searching for suspects in three other separate robberies where gangs fled with cash and other goods.

Authorities have now released screenshots from CCTV footage at the centres, identifying suspects caught in action.

Gauteng Police Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba says authorities are offering R200,000 for any information that may lead to the arrest and successful prosecution of the criminals involved in the robberies.

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

Mothiba also called on shopping centres to increase security as a matter of urgency

He said in a number of incidents, officers found that the security at the various shopping malls has not been up to standard.

"Security guards are relaxed and one would expect that there would be a satisfactory amount of security. In some of the malls, CCTV cameras weren't working."

Police have urged all stakeholders to join hands with the police to bring an end to the scourge in the run up to the festive season.

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.