Johannesburg – Gauteng police will increase visibility in and around some of the malls that have been identified as high risk, says Provincial Police Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba.
Mothiba said five suspects were arrested in Brixton and Doornfontein during a crime intelligence raid, following the recent spate of mall robberies in the province.
He was briefing media at the provincial head office on Tuesday.
The police commissioner said so far, about 11 malls have been robbed, and 95% of the crimes targeted cellular shops. At other malls, cash in transit robberies were experienced.
“We have engaged Business Against Crime (BAC) and SABRIC as part of the process to stop the wave of robberies. We have set up meetings with Mall management to beef up security at malls, as well as look at their security system at the premises,” said Mothiba.
The most recent attacks and robberies occurred over the weekend, where a Sumsang Cellular phone shop at Cradlestone Mall in Krugersdorp was robbed.
A cash-in-transit robbery also took place at the Black Chain Shopping Centre in Diepkloof, Soweto, on Saturday, where a security guard was robbed and killed, and three others injured.
“The five suspects fled in two vehicles, a white Chevrolet Crux and a grey VW Jetta, with false registration.
“The suspects, aged between 28 and 44 years old, were arrested at their hide out in Brixton and Doornfontein. During the arrest, police confiscated a 9mm pistol and 3 semi-automatic rifles, as well as 97 life rounds of ammunition,” Mothiba said.
He said the suspects are in police custody and will be charged with the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
“The possibility of more charges being added is not yet ruled out,” Mothiba said.
He said the suspects are being investigated and much focus is on their alleged involvement in robberies at the Black Chain Shopping Centre in Diepkloof, Soweto, ATM bombings, taxi violence and business robbery.
Other affected malls were The Glen Mall, World Wear Shopping Centre, Eastgate Mall, Northgate Mall, Kolonade Mall in Pretoria, Maponya Mall, Centurion Mall, The Glenn and Cresta Mall.
Mothiba said a national team of detectives has been assigned to help local police to investigate a spate of violent mall robberies.
He added that the robberies occurred in a period where communities were busy with their shopping for the festive season.
He urged community members and shoppers to be vigilant and alert whilst shopping and walking around the malls.
Meanwhile, Mothiba announced that a police officer was shot and killed off duty, on Monday night, when he was entering his home in Dawn Park, Vosloorus.
“The spate of cop killings in the province is alarming and cannot continue like this. We have lost 13 police officers, six on duty and seven off duty in the past six months,” Mothiba added.
He appealed to the community to assist police and protect their law enforcement officers.
“Remember, policing cannot be done by police officers alone… we need the community to work with the police,” said Mothiba.