CRIME SPREE A SECURITY POSER FOR CENTRES

SHOPPING malls are caught between a rock and a hard place: they want to prevent crime, but guards armed to the teeth will surely scare off the very customers they want to protect.

SHOPPING malls are caught between a rock and a hard place: they want to prevent crime, but guards armed to the teeth will surely scare off the very customers they want to protect.

Michael Broughton, spokesperson for the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, said retailers would meet in the next few days to devise strategies to try and end robberies at malls.

"We are not going to give our guards guns. We don't believe in more guns. It is not a solution. We can't afford Wild West-style shootings at our malls," he said.

Broughton said malls should be easily accessible places where families should feel safe to relax and enjoy themselves.

Daring robbers have attacked seven malls around Gauteng in the past week.

A spokesman for SBV Services, who transport cash to and from malls said their guards underwent extensive training to protect themselves and the public.

"Unfortunately, I cannot reveal what we are doing to prevent the robberies because criminals might use that against us, but we are working closely with police and other stakeholders," he said.

Gauteng MEC for community safety Khabisi Mosunkutu has vowed to arrest the gangsters responsible for the spate of business robberies soon.

"Intelligence gathered around the recent heist at the Trade Route Mall in Lenasia shows that the band of crooks behind this heist has been involved in similar attacks previously. Members of the SAPS already have information about this group of approximately eight heavily armed crooks," he said.

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