‘A stranger was touching my body’

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Copy of ca p9 Sharna Caledon done

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Sharna Caledon, 31, says she was humiliated when security at Edgars in Maynard Mall allegedly strip-searched her. Photo: DAVID RITCHIE

 

Cape Town - An Ottery mother has laid a charge of crimen injuria with police after she was left traumatised during an alleged strip-search by security guards at Edgars in Maynard Mall, Wynberg.

Sharna Caledon bought a cellphone on December 12 and was on her way out of the store when metal detectors were triggered at the door.

Caledon was asked to put her handbag and lunch bag through the metal detector, but they were not the cause of the trigger.

“I was asked to walk through and the alarm sounded.”

Security then told Caledon she had to be searched.

“I refused to be searched and asked for management to be called. I asked the store manager to check their security camera.”

But the mom was told there were no CCTV cameras inside the shop.

“I asked for an immediate refund and didn’t want the phone any longer.”

After the refund, Caledon said, she was escorted by three staff members, including security, to an office to be searched.

“The security guard promptly – without warning – lifted both layers of my top. Her hands went around the inside strap of my bra, from the front to the back below my breast. I felt violated. A stranger was touching my body.”

The mother of one was asked to remove her top, pants and shoes, leaving her in her underwear.

Nothing was found.

Caledon is now receiving counselling. She is also seeking legal advice.

The company offered her R5 000 as a token of goodwill, she said.

“This is why women don’t want to report matters of abuse or rape. They (Edgars) are now denying it even happened. At first they apologised for the incident, now they’re saying it never happened. It’s not about the money, it’s about being violated.”

She added that she had opened a case of crimen injuria at the Wynberg police station.

Requests for police comment went unanswered.

Phenias Ncube, deputy director in the office of the Consumer Protector, said it was a criminal matter.

Meanwhile, labour lawyer Michael Bagraim said it was a complete invasion of privacy and that no shop was allowed to strip-search anyone.

“What stores are supposed to do is call the police, but they cannot strip-search.

I am completely horrified and shocked that something like that happened, especially to a woman. She has rights and they have been violated. They need to explain themselves.”

An Edcon spokesperson said a detailed investigation was concluded and that Caledon was not strip-searched.

“Edgars has been communicating with Ms Caledon and has made an apology for her inconvenience. Edgars does on occasion offer a token of goodwill for any inconvenience experienced by customers.

“In this case, R5 000 was offered to Ms Caledon, which was rejected. Ms Caledon has requested R350 000 and has advised her intention to take legal action, which Edgars will challenge.”

natasha.bezuidenhout@inl.co.za

Cape Argus


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