South African malls become target for armed robbers

today Aug 14, 2009
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JOHANNESBURG, Aug 13, 2009 (AFP) - South Africa's shopping malls have become an increasing target for armed robbers, a consumer group warned Thursday 11 August, with three people killed in attacks in and around Johannesburg this week alone.

Photo: AFP/File/Alexander Joe

"There is definitely a spike in armed robberies. We are doing everything we can to look at the modus operandi and analyse the situation so we can deal with this problem," said Consumer Goods Council spokesman Michael Broughton.

Three people have been killed in seven attacks in and around the financial capital Johannesburg since last Sunday (9 August), with Broughton saying 25 armed robberies were reported at shopping malls countrywide last month.

A security guard was fatally shot in the head dead this week while delivering cash to a bank cash machine when four gunmen fired on him and his colleague at a mall south of Johannesburg while four robbers waited outside.

Top safety official for Gauteng, the country's wealthiest province, Khabisi Mosunkutu condemned the attacks and said more police will be sent to crime hot spots including malls

Police will be armed with "heavy-calibre automatic weapons", The Times newspaper quoted him as saying.

"I urge the members in blue to shoot if they feel threatened and they must not miss," Mosunkutu said.

Most robberies targeted jewellery and cellphones stores, said Broughton.

"Because criminals were getting less money we expect more robberies. They need to feed an expensive lifestyle so there would rob more places and shopping malls seem to be the target."

Provincial police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini said police suspected syndicates were involved.

South Africa battles a shocking crime rate of 50 murders a day.

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