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Criminals targeting malls ‘not acting alone’

Gauteng Police Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba announced an intensive security strategy.

National Commissioner of Police Riah Phiyega with newly appointed Gauteng police commissioner Lesetja Mothiba on 4 June 2014. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Police Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba said it's evident that criminals targeting malls are not acting alone.

He made the comments at a briefing on mall robberies in Johannesburg on Thursday.

There've been a number of mall robberies around the province over the past few months.

The police commissioner says his officers have made significant progress to stop the crimes.

Mothiba announced his team made a breakthrough, arresting a man linked to at least 17 robberies in Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

He says while the presence of police officers has been stepped up at shopping centres, shop owners need to play their part.

"What's very much worrisome is the fact that criminals are colluding with the personnel in many of the shops."

The Gauteng police chief says they will continue working with mall security and various other parties to crack down on criminals.

Mothiba announced an intensive security strategy that will see undercover officials patrolling malls.

MALL INCIDENTS RESUME

Authorities are investigating a case of attempted murder after a police officer was shot and wounded during what's believed to have been a mall robbery in Germiston.

Security guards were loading money into an ATM at the Golden Walk Shopping Centre in the East Rand when they mistook undercover officers for armed robbers.

Guards then opened fire.

Police say the officials were monitoring the mall as part of the province's security strategy.

"They were busy with routine patrols at the mall but they were not wearing uniforms," police spokesperson Doniah Mothutsane said.

The incident took place while the commissioner was briefing delegates in Hillbrow on the safety plan.

In a separate incident, seven armed men on Wednesday tried to rob a Pick n Pay store at Maponya Mall in Soweto.

The criminals were confronted by security and fled the scene before they could get away with any goods.