Ashwin Johnson, founder and director of Child and Youth Development Foundation (CYDF)
The CYDF was informed that on Saturday June 20, two women and a girl suffered verbal and physical abuse by a security officer at Liberty Promenade Mall.
The women, aged 46 and 25, and a four-year-old girl, from Mitchell’s Plain, are regular shoppers at the mall.
It is alleged that the incident commenced at the food court where the security officer apparently knocked the two women and the girl with a car, while they were leaving the mall.
The women then moved to the first entrance, where they wanted to report the incident as advised by another security officer, from Accelerate Security Services.
It is alleged that at this point the security officer verbally abused one of the two women and wanted to drive off, and in doing so, pushed the 46-year-old woman with the vehicle and later got out and used pepper spray on them.
We believe that if the shoppers were at any fault, the security officer had to remain professional in his conduct.
We, the CYDF, strongly condemn the conduct of the trained security officer and recommend that the mall ends its contractual obligations with the security company as a sign that they do not support violence against women and children; and that the Western Cape Department of Social Development offers support in the form of age appropriate trauma counselling for the women and the girl.
It is important that government and civil society unite in the fight against gender-based violence and that we collectively condemn it but also educate those in need on the basket of services that are there for the aid of victims.
Najeeba Small-Ebrahim, marketing manager for Liberty Promenade, Excellerate Brand Management
Liberty Promenade confirms that a thorough investigation has been conducted by the security service provider to ascertain the details of this incident.
The mall takes allegations of abuse or assault, in any manner or form, very seriously. The finding of the investigations into this matter are contrary to the allegations made by the shoppers.
The investigation, which includes the review of surveillance footage, as well as eye-witness reports, outline misconduct on the part of the shoppers, whereby they are observed physically attacking and racially abusing the security guard involved, as well as removing the keys from the ignition of the security vehicle he was driving. In an act of self-defence, the security guard deployed the pepper spray to protect himself from the physical abuse.
The management of the service provider has made numerous attempts to engage, and meet with the shoppers to address the issue, with little co-operation. The management will continue their efforts to conduct a meeting with the shoppers.
The security guard involved in this incident has since opened their own case with SAPS for the assault and racial abuse experienced during this incident and has been cleared to continue working shifts at the mall.
There have been several regrettable instances of racial abuse towards the mall’s security guards over the past few weeks.
We urge our community to be respectful towards all mall staff members, and co-operatives to ensure a pleasure shopping experience for everyone.
The mall’s security guards are part of essential staff working to keep the mall, and its shoppers safe and they have been doing a tremendous job under challenging circumstances.
Liberty Promenade values its shoppers and gives them the commitment that any serious incident will be thoroughly investigated and addressed.
Esther Lewis, Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) spokeswoman
Trauma counselling forms part of the basket of services offered by the Department of Social Development. Anyone in need of these services can contact their nearest local DSD office directly, (in this case, Mitchell’s Plain) where a social worker will assist in providing the necessary support.