Shopping mall robberies: “I just don’t feel safe.”

There have been no less than 11 robberies at Gauteng shopping centres in the last month. Earlier this month two shopping centres – Maponya Mall and Northgate Shopping Centre – were robbed on the same day. BHEKI SIMELANE asked shoppers at Maponya Mall how they felt about their safety given the recent spate of mall robberies. 

Mildred WilliamsMildred Williams, 86, pensioner, Orlando
Malls are an easy target because they are often packed with people. I honestly do not feel safe here anymore, and not just here, I just don’t feel safe being at any of the malls. There isn’t enough security to protect customers and businesses. I would like to see more visible security. The cameras too should be serviced on a constant basis to ensure they come in handy whenever needed. We old people are suffering because we are a target for thugs here at Maponya Mall. They clone our cards and take the little that the government gives us. We go to the malls alone, we do not have cars and our children are working. Security measures have to be reviewed in all the malls in the country and this must be done quickly.

Desmond DixonDesmond Dixon, 42, church leader, Eldorado Park
You can not feel safe after all that’s happening in our malls. I keep looking over my shoulders to see who is behind me. That’s not life. All you want to do is come in here and leave as soon as you can. Corruption is also to blame for these robberies because in some instances business employees help thugs with crucial security and other information. Maybe we shouldn’t look too much to the government. It begins with us, we have lost respect for one another as South Africans. It’s true, beefing up security could work but I blame the country’s inherent culture of violence which has never been properly addressed. I blame the moral decay. What do you expect in a country where a police officer will boast of loads of cash in bribes money?

Siyabonga TshabalalaSiyabonga Shabalala, 21, student, Lenasia South
Thoughts of the robbery haven’t stopped stalking me since I walked in here. I’m seated here and I’m thinking about the safety of my own life. It has become clear now that going to any of the malls is dangerous. I don’t feel safe at all. There is apparently not enough security. There should be a lot more security because this mall is huge. Employees should also stop betraying their bosses by helping thugs with security information. They are complicating the problem by colluding with robbers instead of just being thankful they have jobs. Thugs target businesses in malls because of the high concentration of people. They know they are safe from attack until they themselves decide to strike first. They feel at ease to execute their evil plans in the middle of so many people and they can always easily get away.

Ntombifuthi MthembuNtombifuthi Mthembu, 26, caregiver, Mofolo
I do not feel safe going to any of the malls because of the danger of being shot. It’s easy to see why these guys target shopping malls. Shopping malls are always crowded with people and that is fertile ground for thugs to sow their evil deeds. I cannot even take my kids to the mall anymore because the security guards throw ugly, intimidating looks around since the incident happened. Security guards should be armed to the teeth just like the criminals. How can they be expected to approach gun-wielding robbers with batons? Security cameras should be all over and guards must move around and be well equipped with [portable radios].

*Voxes are edited for brevity and clarity.