A Joburg widow has demanded R3 million in financial support from Massmart after her husband was shot and killed in a botched robbery at one of its chain stores earlier this year.
George “Frik” Marx was shot dead by fleeing robbers disguised as security guards as he arrived at Builders Warehouse in Rivonia on February 22.
Marx, who had gone to the store to pick up supplies, ran a small construction company and was the family’s breadwinner.
Since his death, Marx’s widow Natasha and her two young children are destitute. They have to rely on Marx’s brother David for financial support. Natasha works part-time as an office assistant but does not earn enough to support her young family.
Massmart, the mega-corporation that owns the Builders Warehouse chain, promised the family in a press statement that it would provide assistance pending its investigation.
But after covering the funeral costs, Massmart, owned by global giant Walmart, has refused any further requests for financial aid from Natasha, and the family are suing Massmart and its contracted security company.
The family’s lawyer, Katie Jordaan, has sent a letter of demand to Massmart requesting more than R3m to support Natasha and her two children, Thinus, 11 months, and 12-year-old Samantha.
Jordaan said it was Massmart’s gross negligence that led to Marx’s death, as the robbers had infiltrated the guarded centre to rob the store. Jordaan and the Marx family believe proper security checks could have prevented the thugs from entering the premises.
Jordaan said: “Common decency dictates that (Massmart) should help.”
Massmart admitted that the company was still conducting its investigation into Marx’s death – nearly five months later.
But in its response, Massmart placed the blame for the robbery on its independently contracted security company.
“We are confident that a court of law will take a similar view in this regard,” the response read.
Jordaan has promised to take Massmart to the high court for the civil claim. “We will be fighting this,” she said.
The robbery began soon after the store was opened at 6am by employees and security guards.
After they had unlocked the doors and entered the building, they were approached by one of the assailants, who, dressed as a security guard, had followed them into the building. The armed robber took one of the employees hostage, and three other armed men then entered the building.
One of the men forced a sales manager to the room that housed the safe. However, the manager didn’t have access to the code to unlock the safe. Unable to open the safe, they fled from the building.
They encountered two customers, who had arrived in separate vehicles. One of the men was Marx, who police believed was killed as the robbers were trying to steal his car as a getaway vehicle.