Two of East London’s biggest malls – Vincent Park and Hemingways – were hit by a gang of armed men yesterday.
There was speculation that the same gang – said to be seven strong – hit both malls. However, this could not be confirmed by police late yesterday.
Customers and staff were locked in a store in one of the heists, while at the other a person was seen through the shop window being treated by paramedics.
In the morning the Telkom mobile store at Vincent Park mall was the first target of the armed robbers yesterday morning when the gang forced their way into the store and made off with an undisclosed number of the latest mobile devices.
In the afternoon, the Incredible Connection Store in Hemingways mall was also robbed by a gang believed to number around seven.
The Dispatch arrived 30 minutes after the Hemingways robbery and the store was closed. Staff looked shocked and did not want to speak.
One person was seen receiving medical attention from two paramedics inside.
The security manager at the mall and store manager refused to speak to the media.
It is suspected that it could be the same guys that robbed Telkom earlier on. East London has had seven armed robberies in just two weeks and all these cases are similar.
A source at the scene said the group walked into the store and made off with an undisclosed amount of items.
“It is suspected that it could be the same guys that robbed Telkom earlier on. East London has had seven armed robberies in just two weeks and all these cases are similar.”
Earlier in the day, police spokesman Captain Mluleki Mbi, commenting on the Telkom heist, said police were investigating a case of business robbery.
A security guard at Vincent Park said the robbers calmly walked in the mall before ordering him to walk with them to the store. The gunmen ordered the guard to close shop while one of the six men stood outside to monitor him.
“They closed the store and told me to stand at the door. They said I must tell customers that the shop is not open at the moment and they took staff inside the store room.
“They said they do not want anything from me but were just here to get the phones.”
He added: “As you can see, I am still very shocked with what just happened.”
A cleaner said one the men had emerged from the nearby Tekkie Town Store just before the robbery.
A Tekkie Town employee confirmed this, saying the man had pretended to be looking for a job at the store. “He said he wanted to drop off his CV but I was too busy with admin work so I did not really pay much attention to him.”
Telkom employees, who asked not to be named, said the robbery happened in full view of customers. “They walked in as if they wanted to be served and one came to me and pointed a gun at my waist. He said they did not want anything from us and that all they wanted was the cellphones.”
They said six staff members and “a few” customers were taken and locked in the storeroom.
The store was closed after the incident yesterday and police had cordoned off the area around it when Dispatch arrived at the scene.
Mbi said: “The suspects overpowered the security guard and held staff and customers at gunpoint before fleeing the scene with an unknown number of mobile devices.
“No one was injured, they ran without shooting anyone and we are investigating a case of business robbery.”
Centre manager Joseph Parsley said no one was injured during the incident.
“The safety and security of our shoppers and tenants is of utmost importance to Vincent Park centre management, and we are working with the police to assist in this investigation.”
Questions were sent to Mbi about the second robbery and he had not replied by the time of going to print yesterday
Anyone with information is requested to contact the Cambridge detectives on 043-709-7500 or 086-001-0111.