When Zelda Robert parked her trolley in the bay on the top floor parking lot at Tyger Valley Shopping Centre (TVSC) she turned round and hit her head on the trolley bay sign.
“At first I thought it was just a scratch but it started bleeding badly. Luckily I had some tissues to put on the wound. My daughter and I walked to the management office where things went from bad to worse. The woman at the desk called security, went back to her work, and left me standing with a bleeding head. After a while I asked again when the security guard was arriving and for some water to wipe the blood.
“Eventually security arrived to take me to their offices. On the way the security guard first decided to chat to his buddies about their welfare while I’m holding the tissue to try to stop the bleeding.
“I received no empathy from the staff members. Except for Shirley the first aider at the security office who cleaned the wound and said I would need stitches. I went to Intercare and got three stitches. The medical bill was almost
R1 000,” Ms Robert said.
The De Bron resident said it had been a traumatic experience not only for her but for her schoolgirl daughter as well.
“I would probably have made more of a scene at the office but I had to keep calm for my daughter’s sake.”
After the incident on July 12, Ms Robert contacted the centre a few times to ask about the claiming process for her injury as she was getting conflicting messages.
“On July 25 I handed in my medical bill and a letter to management to complain about the bad experience. My biggest concern though, is what they are going to do to rectify the problem with the trolley bay sign. I have not had one reply,” Ms Robert said.
That’s no surprise: none of the people I contacted, Ashleigh Fontini, reportedly the public relations officer of the centre or general manager Tanya Heimann, acknowledged any of my five or six messages, asking for an explanation and if they were going to adjust the trolley bay sign.
The senior claims advisor, Erik Maluleke of Marsh Africa, replied to two messages that the matter had been escalated to Tyger Valley management. In a last ditch attempt to get a response I contacted Ignatius “Iggy” Sathekge, spokesperson for Mowana Properties, which co-owns the shopping centre.
“The Tyger Valley team reached out to her and believe we have been more than helpful in that we attended to Ms Robert on the day of the incident. The team also completed all the necessary paperwork and submitted it to our insurers. We further motivated a settlement with our co-owners which in turn led to a final settlement proposal but she refused to sign the release document. We remain hopeful that she will reconsider our settlement. It will be unfair and unfortunate of you to mention that the team was unhelpful when we have not had co-operation from Ms Robert,” Mr Sathekge said.
Meanwhile, on August 22, Ms Robert received an email from Marsh Africa that they would pay her medical bill on condition that she didn’t discuss it with anyone, so she refused to sign the release document, as she wanted people to know what happened to her.
But Ms Robert apparently misunderstood the document. The terms of the settlement were confidential not the fact that she was injured at Tyger Valley which is of public interest. So she signed the release document and received an SMS on Saturday November 30 that she would get paid. The money was in her account on December 2.
“Thank you for all the assistance and your willingness to take on these bullies,” said Ms Robert who until now has not received an apology from the centre.
Ms Robert said although she accepted the money she still wants the TVSC to apologise to her and explain what they plan to do to prevent it happening to someone else.
“Next time, heaven forbid there is a next time, I will not try to stop the blood, I will leave it to drip all over the centre. Maybe then the staff will wake up and do something to help.”
And what did TVSC management say? “We have taken note of your email, for which we thank you. The matter has been resolved,” Tanya Heimann, general manager, said, and signed the letter “without prejudice” which is meaningless.
It means if the matter does go to court it will not be used as evidence against the person making the statement.