Cape Town - Gunmen, one posing as a woman, shot dead a security guard in what was the 15th mall attack in the Western Cape in the past four weeks.
The gunmen struck while the guards were collecting money at the Pick n Pay store in Waterstone Village, Somerset West, on Sunday morning.
A G4S security guard, who could not be identified, was collecting money at the Pick n Pay store at around 9am on Sunday when the thieves struck.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said that as the security guard was about to leave the store he was approached by two unidentified men.
According to Van Wyk, one was dressed as a woman. He was wearing a pink blouse, matching pink trousers and a brown hat.
“One of the suspects produced a firearm and fatally wounded the guard. They grabbed the boxes and fled the scene in a silver Toyota Corolla with an undisclosed amount of cash.”
Van Wyk said a murder and robbery case had been opened for investigation, but no arrests had been made.
When the Cape Argus visited Waterstone Village on Sunday, most shops were open for business except those near Pick n Pay. At the entrance near Pick n Pay, doors were closed to the public.
Two security personnel stood at the entrance door notifying shoppers about the incident. At the time the gurad’s body was still inside the shop.
Shoppers tried to get a glimpse of the scene through the glass door, while others were frustrated by the early closing.
Pick n Pay, in a statement, sent condolences to the family of the security guard.
“We are very sad to report that a security guard from G4S was shot and killed during the robbery. Our hearts go out to his family and friends at this tragic time.”
The statement said the store was working closely with the police.
“Pick n Pay is co-operating fully with the SAPS, including providing CCTV footage of the incident.”
The loading zone at the back of Pick n Pay was packed with late-shift staff members speculating on what had happened.
They were not allowed inside the shop as investigators were still busy; their day-shift colleagues were inside receiving counselling.
People watched as forensic pathologists rolled out the body.
Some workers said they were familiar with the security guard because he often made collections at the store.
“He seemed like a nice guy, very quiet and he appeared to be very young as well,” a staff member said.
Business Against Crime SA chief executive Andrew Anthony said that despite the increase in police and security visibility malls were still being attacked.
“We are very concerned about this and all shopping centre managements are working closely with us and the police.”
Anthony said he was also concerned about shoppers.
“They have a right to be worried, but they too can contribute to enhancing security by reporting all suspicious people and vehicles to the mall’s security.”
“No shopping centre wants any sort of crime to happen and therefore they will respond promptly to tip-offs.”
Waterstone Village shoppers were shocked to hear about the robbery.
Miandra Herbst said: “This is quite upsetting and shocking. You never expect this to happen in your surroundings. I’m just shaken by thinking about it.”
Lyn Wentzel, a regular at the shopping centre, said the spate of mall robberies was “scary”.
“It is frightening that they are targeting public places now. In future it makes one think twice about even going to a mall.”
Dudley Forbes said a few weeks ago Somerset West Mall was hit. “You are never safe; these robbers do it everywhere.”
Forbes said it was not only in malls that shoppers needed to be vigilant, but also when in the presence of cash collecting security guards.
“They are the targets, so what I do when I see them I go in the opposite direction, you never know who’s following them.”
In the past month the following attacks have taken place:
* September 21: A jewellery store at the Somerset West Mall was robbed by seven men.
* September 23: A woman was robbed outside Canal Walk; she was dragged almost 20m by her attacker’s getaway vehicle.
* September 28: Altech Autopage in Blue Route Mall was robbed.
* September 28: Four men attempted to rob Zewenwacht Mall.
* October 1: A 65-year-old man was robbed off his jewellery at the V&A Waterfront.
* October 2: Five men held up a jewellery store in Franschhoek.
* October 3: The Vodastore in Tygervalley was robbed by three armed men.
* October 4: A security guard was assaulted and Shoprite in Fish Hoek was robbed of an undisclosed amount of money.
* October 8: iStore in Canal Walk was robbed.
* October 11: Jewellery worth more than R2 million was stolen at a store in a Canal Walk.
* October 16: Armed robbers target Cardies in Canal Walk tying up two staff members and stealing stock and cash.
* October 17: A Vodastore in Bayside Mall was raided.
* October 17: Nando’s in Plattekloof Village was robbed by eight armed men.
* This story was updated at 9.15am.