File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Cape Town -

An MTN shop in Ottery has been hit by criminals in the fourth attack this month on the mobile operator’s stores.

At least four MTN shops have been targeted since the start of the month – two in the Western Cape and another two in the Eastern Cape.

Staff say it was the second time the Ottery shop was hit in less than two months.

On Sunday an MTN employee said staff were fearing for their safety.

About two weeks ago MTN told the Cape Times it was concerned about the crimes and another employee, who declined to be identified, said the shops were being targeted because MTN cellphones could easily be used outside the country, while other service providers’ cellphones were locked in a manner making them difficult to use abroad.

MTN said there had been an increase in shops being targeted in the province.

Shops targeted around Cape Town included branches in Durbanville, Rondebosch, Somerset West, Steenberg, Paarl, Kuils River, Kraaifontein and Observatory.

The Ottery MTN shop was robbed on Friday.

Yesterday police spokesman Frederick van Wyk said the incident happened at about 11am when three suspects entered the shop.

He said they threatened a 35-year-old, the complainant in the case, with a firearm and robbed the shop of 76 cellphones and cash.

Yesterday Grant van Niekerk, an MTN employee who worked at another branch, but who knew about the Ottery incident, said he believed it was the second time the shop had been targeted in about a month

“Everyone employed there is very traumatised. They (those present at the time of the robbery) will only be back on Tuesday,” he said.

He referred to the robberies as “a major” concern.

On the Facebook forum Traffic fines, cameras & updates in Western Cape, which posted an alert about the incident, a number of users said it was the second time the Ottery shop had been targeted in less than two months.

“Its really scary, colleagues afraid to go work,” wrote a user, who said he worked for MTN.

About two weeks ago two MTN shops were robbed on the same day in East London, one at the Hemingways Mall and another at the Vincent Park Mall.

And on April 7 an MTN shop in a mall in Kuils River was robbed.

Lily Zondo, MTN SA’s general manager of business risk management, had previously told the Cape Times it was working with the Western Cape police to prevent further incidents.

She had said MTN was working closely with the police, Hawks and other mobile operators to curb the crimes.

Zondo said robbers seemed to be targeting handsets and MTN had not dismissed the possibility that a syndicate was behind the robberies.

Cape Times

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