Police investigate Pick n Pay Masianokeng robbery

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Bereng Mpaki

THE police are investigating an incident in which the newly opened Pick n Pay store at the Masianokeng Lifestyle Centre was robbed of an undisclosed amount of money and goods by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday evening.

Police spokesperson superintendent Mpiti Mopeli yesterday said the police responded to a distress alarm on Tuesday evening and arrived at the store after the assailants had ran off.

He said they do not yet have any leads on the identities of the robbers but have launched their investigations.

“We have opened an armed robbery case on the incident and have kicked off investigations,” Supt Mopeli said.

Store manager, Kojang Malahleha, said the daring robbers did not even wear balaclavas. She said they took off with an undisclosed amount of money after vandalising and uprooting cash registers before running away on foot.

She said the thieves also took off with a few light goods including brand-new mobile phones.

Ms Malahleha said they were shaken by the incident but were grateful that there were neither injuries nor fatalities in the robbery which lasted about 20 minutes.

She said her workers were able to run out of the store while others managed to hide inside.

The robbers left the floor littered with bullet shells after firing several shots at the roof to frighten the staff and customers.

“The armed assailants stormed into the store and ordered everybody to lie down while they carried out the robbery. We do not know how many they were.

“They took money from the till drawers and some goods including cellphones. We do not as yet know how much money they took but the police have since recovered a till drawer that the robbers dropped while they were running away. We do not know how much money was in it.

“A second till drawer has also been found abandoned in the nearby village and we do not know if it had any money in it. We will only know how much was stolen after we have reconciled our records with what is left,” Ms Malahleha said.

The shop opened just eight days ago but Ms Malahleha said while they were hurt by the robbery, they would not be forced to stop operations.

“The incident has shaken us but the biggest setback for us would have been if our staff members and patrons were injured and thankfully, there was no such.

“What was stolen is replaceable unlike people. That is one thing that I am celebrating this morning.”

She said they have since resumed operations after beefing up security. A police post building within the shopping centre is nearing completion.

“While the incident has traumatised us, I look at it as a wakeup call for us to tighten our security and we have already done that. We have since resumed operations at the store and the only minor challenge we have is that we are unable to operate some of our vandalised cash registers that need replacements.”

She said the police were able to retrieve the CCTV footage from the store and they were hopeful that the perpetrators would soon be arrested and brought to justice.

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