'Mall robberies could endanger economy'

The CGCSA says South Africa's economy could be at risk unless mall robberies are decisively dealt with.

FILE: The CGCSA and the police have teamed up with retailers and security companies to combat mall robberies. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) says South Africa's economy could be at risk unless mall robberies are decisively dealt with.

The council's Graham Wright was briefing Parliament's Police Portfolio Committee on strategies to deal with an alarming increase in armed robberies at shopping centres.

Mobile phone stores have been hardest hit by the recent surge in armed robberies.

The CGCSA and the police have teamed up with retailers and security companies to combat mall robberies.

Wright says the retail industry contributes over R18 billion to the national coffers.

He says for this reason, the safety of shoppers is important.

The police service believes there are a small number of criminals responsible for the robberies.

Authorities say they already had some success and have a new strategy to crack down on hits at shopping centres.

Furthermore, the police service's efforts in dealing with mall robberies have been described by Members of Parliament as a 'knee jerk approach'.

Committee chair, Francois Beukman, says plans need to be less reactive.

"There should be crime intelligence driven operations to ensure we evaluate changes in trends and then we react. It shouldn't be that we react after 17 robberies."

MALLS HIT

Last month shopping centres including Canal Walk, Tyger Valley and Somerset Mall were all targeted.

Canal Walk and Tyger Valley were hit three times each.

Armed robbers also targeted the Parow, Somerset, Blue Route and Zevenwacht shopping malls.

In Gauteng since the beginning of the year, malls in Soweto, Cresta, Northgate and Centurion were also targeted.

Police said they will continue to increase visibility and security at malls.