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Cape Town - Police are still searching for robbers who held petrol attendants at Tygervalley’s Engen hostage while they served motorists.
The Engen’s owner, Hamied Salie, told the Cape Argus last week how three robbers stepped out of a car, entered the garage’s kiosk and threatened the teller at gunpoint. They emptied the till and then held attendants hostage.
A number of customers pulled up to the petrol pumps during the robbery. CCTV footage shows at least one armed robber standing behind a petrol attendant as he fills up an unsuspecting motorist’s car. Money passes from the motorist to the attendant, who is forced to give it to the suspect.
“This happened around seven times as customers filled up at the pumps. The customers had no idea what was going on, and paid for the petrol. I am just happy that no one got hurt,” Salie told the Cape Argus.
Vuyo Lufele, provincial secretary for the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), said the incident highlighted the vulnerability of petrol attendants working on night shift.
He said that criminals often targeted ATMs at petrol stations because of the lack of security.
In March, the Cape Argus reported an ATM bombing in Old Strandfontein Road where staff had to lock themselves in the shop. At the time, Thabo Ceba, a petrol attendant, said the bombing brought back memories of a 2008 armed robbery at the service station. He was shot in the face.
Numsa represents around 70 000 of South Africa’s 300 000 petrol attendants. Most attendants are not with unions. Last month, after a three-week strike, the union reached a wage agreement with employers’ representative, the Fuel Retailers Association.
Lufele said that the union would launch “a massive recruitment drive” to strengthen its bargaining position and to call for better protection for night staff at talks in 2016.
Jacques Cronje, of the Fuel Retailers Association, urged a closer link with local police stations.