Malls on high alert

Cavendish Square was closed on Thursday morning but reopened at noon.

Malls in the southern suburbs are on high alert as a result of the violence and looting which have taken place in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng during the past week.

Cavendish Square reopened at noon after having been closed earlier today as a precautionary measure.

In an unsigned statement, Cavendish Square said due to the volatile situation in the country they had kept the mall closed this morning in the interest of the shopper- and tenant safety.

The Tatler tried calling the mall, but their management was not available, though the switchboard operator confirmed the mall had reopened at noon. They also confirmed this via the mall’s social media platforms.

Access Park in Kenilworth has also implemented extra measures to keep its clients and stores safe. Its head of security, Bilal Sheik, said they had closed the shopping complex on Tuesday July 13 after concerns about what had been happening at the malls in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Mr Sheik said this had given them an opportunity to boost their security. “We have lifted our security measures by getting more security from three other outsourcing companies,” he said.

There is an armed security presence at the main entrance of Access Park, as well as additional marked and unmarked vehicles patrolling the premises. Mr Sheik added that customers can only enter through the main entrance, as they kept the back entrance closed.

“We also have a security presence that is monitoring the perimeter fence around the mall,” he said, adding that the back entrance in Myhof Road is only closed today.

Mr Sheik said he was keeping close contact with Claremont police to ensure that they had the correct information, and acted on facts rather than any misinformation that may have been shared on social media.

Access Park centre manager, Desiree White said despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Access Park had traded reasonably well. “Sadly, the situation of crime that we now face will most certainly make Customers nervous to go out and shop, I am sure this goes for all Centres and shopping places at the moment.”

Lieutenant Colonel Marnus Fourie of Claremont police said they were on high alert. “Our members on the ground are patrolling at the malls and giving hourly situation reports,” he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Fourie added that they had a contingency plan in place should they need the assistance of their neighbourhood watches, private security companies or other other agencies .

“We urged people not to send out fake news. Because of fake news, some of the malls closed today .

Executive manager of the Claremont Improvement District, Abdul Kerbelker, said his security team was also on high alert and had extra resources on standby should they need it. “We have direct contact with police, who also have Public Order Policing on standby,” he said.

Spokesperson for Riverside Mall in Rondebosch, Lorraine Snyman, said they were also working closely with authorities, Rondebosch SAPS, and the Rondebosch Community Policing Forum to monitor and manage the threats posed by opportunistic looting and ongoing taxi violence.

“We are currently trading as normal and precautionary safety measures have been put in place to limit damage as far as possible to property and safeguard lives, the safety and security of our customers, tenants and employees remains our highest priority,” she said.

Premier Alan Winde said police and the Provincial Disaster Risk Management Centre were aware of multiple messages going around relating to, among others, alleged threats to various malls in the City of Cape Town and elsewhere in the province.

“In the case of the WhatsApp circulating, listing seven malls as targets, the threat has been assessed and it is not considered to be a major concern,” he said.

MEC for local government, environmental affairs and development planning, Anton Bredell, said social media platforms were creating unnecessary fear and panic.

“Please report any concern to your local police station and try to verify with official sources before distributing any information, all information received by police is followed up and verified,” he said.

Access Park in Kenilworth.