Cops plan to stamp out mall crimes

THE police have vowed to fight the brazen attacks on shopping centres and malls in a bid to make them safer for the public.

Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa's spokesperson, Hangwani Mulaudzi, said criminals cannot "operate willy-nilly and endanger the security of the public".

"The police will have to react decisively. The minister has expressed his concern about the spate of shopping centre attacks and wants drastic action taken," he said yesterday.

Mulaudzi said eight attacks in the past week had angered the minister. In one attack six men in biker gear and helmets robbed Browns Jewellery in Fourways, Johannesburg, on Sunday.

The brazen shopping centre attacks started last Monday at the Killarney Mall in Johannesburg, where a Coin Security guard was robbed of cash boxes.

Other malls that have fallen victim to the attacks are Centurion, Midrand, Gallo Manor, Alberton and Pretoria North. Two people have died in the attacks, while six others have been wounded and 10 suspects are behind bars.

Mulaudzi said the police, in partnership with business, had managed to reduce cash-in-transit attacks and ATM bombings, so criminals are now targeting malls and shopping centres.

"We will have to deal harshly with these attacks. They must come to an end," he said.

Business Against Crime spokesperson Jenny Irish-Qhobosheane could not be reached comment yesterday.