'shopping centre attacks declining'

POLICE are confident they are winning the war against attacks on shopping centres.

POLICE are confident they are winning the war against attacks on shopping centres.

"The attacks have been contained. In the past we had something like seven attacks in seven days," national Police Commissioner Bheki Cele's spokesperson Nonkululeko Mbatha saidyesterday.

"Now we have one or two and they are scattered."

She said though the police had failed to eradicate the attacks completely, steady progress had been made.

"That it is happening only in Gauteng should tell you that police in other provinces are proactive," Mbatha said.

"In Gauteng we've beefed up our strategies and making arrests, so attacks have decreased."

More than 20 robberies occurred at malls in July - 18 were reported in August but in September no more than 10 were recorded. More than 20 suspects have been arrested for these crimes.

Consumer Goods Council of SA spokesperson Michael Broughton said it was not easy to uproot crime completely because "the country's social welfare is not up to scratch".

"Until we deal with issues of unemployment, education and other social issues, crime will rage on," Broughton said.

He said shops had taken away "targets" - the things that criminals come for.

"We believe that if they come and don't get what they want it will not be worthwhile to come again."

Broughton said he was happy that President Jacob Zuma was involved in the fight against crime. He agreed with Zuma that laws should be made tough for criminals to get bail.

"I think that will send a clear message to criminals, but I think once you are out on bail and you commit another crime, the state should forfeit your bail and keep you in jail," he said.

Broughton said shopping centres lost about R4million a year as a result of robberies.