An alleged rapist has handed himself over to Eastern Cape police because Dutywa residents were after him, police said on Monday.

KwaZulu-Natal - A North Coast woman has been embroiled in a three-month battle with cinema giant Ster-Kinekor after her handbag was stolen in a cinema.

She said the “measly” R1 000 and two complimentary tickets offered by Ster- Kinekor as compensation is a “slap in the face”.

Tabitha Pullock, 39, said she wanted to warn other moviegoers so they wouldn’t become victims. But Ster-Kinekor said stringent security measures had been put in place.

Pullock had treated her five-year-old son to a film at the Gateway Mall cinema in July. The mother from Zinkwazi on the North Coast said she bought her tickets online and was seated in the last row at the back.

“We were watching the 12.15pm show. I had gone to a few stores before the movie, so I had a shopping bag that I put under my seat. The bag was big enough for me to put my handbag in it.

“About 15 minutes into the movie I heard a ruffling noise and thought a rat got stuck in my shopping bag. When I looked down, I got the shock of my life. There was a man on the floor, taking out my handbag,” said Pullock.

She jumped out of her seat and grabbed the thief’s foot, but he managed to get away and escaped.

“He entered from a door that leads to the premiere lounge, which is private and so should have been locked properly, but wasn’t. Gateway security told me no one is allowed in the area [the premiere lounge] and it took us about 10 minutes to get into it. By then he was long gone,” she said.

The robber got away with her purse, cellphone, car keys, ID book, house keys and bank cards.

Pullock’s husband, Mike, said: “The main issue that needs to be highlighted is that the cinema was accessed through the VIP lounge, which means this was a burglary.

“This is very different from having your goods stolen by someone who gained access by buying a ticket. If that were the case we would not have had any complaint.

“The next point is that the robber had a perfect escape route due to the lack of maintenance on the fire escape door.”

Christopher Botha, regional manager for Ster-Kinekor Theatres, said: “Theft is an unpleasant fact in our society and all companies need to ensure that appropriate safety measures are put in place to reduce such incidents.

“In all our Ster-Kinekor foyers we have placed signs urging customers to safe-guard their personal items. In addition, cinema staff ask customers to watch their personal belongings at the ticket submission before they enter a cinema.

“At Gateway we contract extra security in our foyers for peak shows and have access restrictions under the back row seats in the cinemas. There is an alarm system at all exit doors as these cannot be locked due to fire safety legislation.”

Pullock says her son has become nervous about going to the cinema.

Sunday Tribune