Oxford Freshmarket addresses safety concerns raised by Bluff customers after hijacking in parking lot

Oxford Freshmarket Bluff customers raised security concerns after a woman was hijacked in the parking area in front of the store. Picture: Google Maps

Oxford Freshmarket Bluff customers raised security concerns after a woman was hijacked in the parking area in front of the store. Picture: Google Maps

Published Sep 7, 2022


Durban - Bluff customers who frequently shop at Oxford Freshmarket on Tara Road have raised concerns about their safety after a woman was hijacked in the parking area in front of the store on Monday.

A statement issued on Oxford Freshmarket’s Facebook page on Monday, confirmed that the store was not robbed. However, the company added that there was an unfortunate hijacking incident outside the store.

CLICK HERE for the full report and watch how the hijacking unfolds.

Commenting on the post a concerned shopper said boom gates would help solve the problems.

“Traffic must enter from one entrance and exit at the next. Very grateful that cameras are in place. Everyone loves shopping at Oxford. Let's try and make it a safe place for the shoppers. Thankfully the lady was unharmed,” she said.

Another said: “I am traumatised after watching this ... Oxford is my usual spot ... We are being terrorised by the scums ... it is so heartbreaking.” It was also suggested that the parking area be fenced off.

One woman said there are too many dodgy people hanging around there.

“I am always on high alert when I go there. Oxford needs to take action if they don't want to lose customers,” she said.

Another customer added: “I personally think that Oxford Bluff gets more than enough support from surrounding communities and they are more than capable of putting armed security in the car park and entrance to the store. We the community deserve to shop in peace without having to worry if we will be robbed, hijacked or bags being snatched from defenceless ladies. The car guards outside are of no use ... I would like to know what is your plan of action going forward.”

In response to these safety concerns, Oxford Freshmarket said the safety and well-being of its customers and staff is paramount.

However, the company said like most other retailers it has been grappling with how best to cope with the current high levels of crime in the country.

The company said mall and shopping centre parking lots are prime areas for crimes of opportunity such as car-jamming, smash and grab, bag snatching and for targeted crimes like vehicle theft, hijackings and armed robbery.

“According to the metro police and SAPS, a spate of similar incidents of hijacking have been reported in the southern basin in the past two months, likely by a sophisticated, highly organised syndicate targeting specific individuals (those who have been identified as carrying large sums of cash) and vehicle types.

“We are engaging with our security service providers, CPF (community policing forum) groups and security companies operating in the area, SAPS as well as other retailers to develop a co-ordinated response to enhance security for all shoppers at malls and supermarkets in the area,” said the company.

The company said the expert advice it has received indicates that the presence of armed security is likely to serve to fuel the problem rather than act as a deterrent, particularly to highly organised and heavily armed crime syndicates.

“With the security of our shoppers being our prime concern, we do not want gun battles erupting in our busy parking lots,” it said.

The company announced the following security measures to be implemented:

  • As an immediate step to improve access control it will be prioritising the plan for fencing of the Oxford Bluff precinct as a matter of urgency.
  • Until this has been completed, it reminded customers that there was a free, secure, boom-protected parking area across the road that they had developed some time ago for the exclusive use of Oxford shoppers.
  • They are installing additional cameras to expand surveillance coverage around the store and enhance security providers’ response time.

“It is worth noting that our cameras did pick up the perpetrator’s registration number, which was supplied to law enforcement and immediately conveyed to security service providers in the area,” it said.

It also addressed customer concerns about the growing vagrancy problem.

According to Oxford, this issue can be attributed to a mushrooming informal settlement in the vicinity on unfenced, unsecured municipal land.

“We will be engaging with the relevant authorities on this issue,” it said.

Oxford advised customers to contact store management or store security if they have any concerns.