Robbers pounce on centre

The Paddocks Shopping Centre has been targeted by armed robbers. Picture: Tracey Adams/ ANA African News Agency

There have been public calls for tighter security at Paddocks Shopping Centre, in Milnerton, after the third cellphone-store robbery there in just four months.

Six men, three of them armed with guns, held up the Vodacom Cellucity shop on Sunday July 7, at 1.25pm.

According to Milnerton police spokeswoman Captain Nopaya Madyibi, they took two cellphones and seven replica phones.

The robbery comes little more than a month after four armed men robbed customers of their phones at the MTN store, another cellphone shop at Paddocks (“Robbers target mall,” Tabletalk, June 12).

And before that, at the end of March, the same Cellucity shop was held up and the robbers fled in a grey BMW with undisclosed loot.

Residents from around Milnerton took to Facebook, criticising the mall for inadequate security.

Some, who claimed to have been in the mall at the time of the robbery, said they were still in shock.

“I was there and saw a massive commotion coming from the side of the cellphone shop,” said Michael Ethridge.

“I heard a loud scream. I assumed that this came from one of the customers or staff at the Cellucity. I was with my kids, and in a panic, I grabbed them tried to run for cover. It was very scary, and I don’t think I will go back to that place again. I am terrified for my family’s lives.”

Ingrid Nel, from Paddocks centre management, said as far as they were aware no one had been injured during the robbery.

“We can confirm that the incident took place. We encourage people to contact us as we have trauma counsellors available to assist anyone affected,” she said.

Ms Nel did not answer emailed questions we asked about what, if any, additional security measures the mall would take to prevent further robberies.

She said she was unable to comment further until the police investigation was over.

However, statements attributed to the mall responded to critical social media posts, promising “many visible changes taking place at Paddocks shortly, including physical access control”.

Milnerton Crime Watch issued a statement on Facebook warning of rising crime around the country. Its patrol co-ordinator, Craig Pedersen, said Cellucity, and other cellphone stores, were targets for their high-value goods, and security guards would not deter robbers.

“I’m assured they’re making plans to hold lower stock levels on hand as all cellular outlets are at present,” he said.

An employee at the Paddocks Cellucity who answered the phone said staff were not allowed to speak to the press. She directed our queries to head office, which, in turn, referred us to the Paddocks franchisee, Sean Jofee, only providing an email address. Mr Jofee did not respond to emailed queries by the time this edition went to print.