Parking nightmare

Cheryl Smith, Beacon Valley

Shopping has really become a nightmare at Liberty Promenade Mall since the national Covid-19 lockdown was implemented.

Due to lockdown regulations dropping to level 3, new rules and regulations were to be put in place at this mall.

A lot of things that were in place at this mall, had to change because more people were visiting the mall.

On Monday June 1, I visited Somerset Mall earlier in the day but I did not experience problems at all.

Yes, there are lines but the security had manners.

At Liberty Promenade, most of the parking areas were still closed as in level 4 (and) they still had this “keep out” tape around the parking areas.

At the time I was there, there were no security guards around and no signs cautioning me to not park there. There were a few other vehicles parking there at the time.

When I returned to my car, I noticed that my one wheel was clamped.

Three other drivers had the same experience.

When we went to the centre management office, the gentleman who was in the reception area, called around. He asked us to return to our cars as someone would come to unclamp the wheel.

As we left the office to go to our cars, we were confronted with very aggressive and rude security guards who forced us to go back to the middle entrance as we should exit there.

We explained what happened but they would not understand and we did what was

asked of us.

So the four of us, two of whom were pensioners, had to walk all the way around.

We got to our cars – stood and waited – but no one came to unclamp the cars.

We decided to go back to the management office. Another phone call was made and we were now told that we should go to the security office, which is on the far side of the mall.

As we came to the middle of the centre, we were rudely chased to leave the centre and forced to go around and to use the last entrance of the centre to get to the security’s office.

Upon arrival at the security’s office, the supervisor, came in very rudely and said: “That we can stand on our heads but our cars will not be unclamped, and that we should pay R250 or our cars should stay for 12-hours at our own risk” and that they would not be liable should anything happen to our cars.

I decided not to stand and listen to these people (and) one gentleman even pleaded for them to unclamp his car as he is a pensioner and cannot afford R250.

I decided to leave and go back to the management office to see if they can do something about this as it was a first offence from all our side.

I even tried to reason that the centre does not have notices set up as at other centres in the Western Cape, that states that your car will be clamped or towed away should you park in illegal parking bays.

I left their offices, to return to my car, as I left my phone in the car.

I decided to call my husband to explain what happened, and also asked him to bring the money, as I did not have it on me at the time.

As we approached the office again the security supervisor said in Xhosa something disparaging about “coloureds”.

My husband understood what he said and responded and then the supervisor left the office to go and unclamp the car.

This is according to a lady who was there. My husband paid the money to have the wheel unclamped. I don’t know what happened to the other people.

I was basically near to tears and I told my husband I will never set foot in that mall again until this Covid-19 thing settles down.

Najeeba Ebrahim, marketing manager for Excellerate Brand Management Promenade Mall, responds:

Liberty Promenade extend their apologies to Ms Smith and the other customers for their unpleasant experience at the mall.

The Mitchell’s Plain community is always at the very heart of what we do, and we value any and all feedback from our community, as they afford us the opportunity to improve on our offering to
them.

There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging.

We have had to implement stringent health and safety measures across the mall, for the well-being of our customers, as governed by a Disaster Risk Management (DRM) team who are on site daily.

We acknowledge not all of these measures are convenient but they are necessary and enforced on the mall.

It is expected that Liberty Promenade would enforce stricter rules compared to other malls, due to its high foot traffic and the concern that Mitchell’s Plain has been declared a Covid-19 hot spot.

The mall conducted an investigation of the incident and findings show that the illegally parked vehicles were parked in a “no parking zone” as indicated by the red lines.

Those vehicles were obstructing traffic where delivery trucks trying to pass through were unable to do so.

Signage at Liberty Promenade does indicate that wheels would be clamped and a release fee of R250 will be imposed, should customers park illegally.

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These signs are visible in the parking area close to the designated, special reserved bays.

We would like to take this opportunity to let our customers know that the mall has reserved parking bays for the elderly, moms and tots, persons with disabilities and shoppers with special needs.

All mall security guards are trained but we have, however, addressed this specific incident with our security service provider and will not condone disrespectful behaviour towards our customers.

We do acknowledge that our security guards have a difficult job, which is enforcing necessary rules and regulations to ensure the safety of shoppers.

We value the support we receive from the community and we value their input. We encourage all shoppers to address their complaints to Liberty Promenade Mall, so that we can resolve any issues or concerns, and pass on compliments as appropriate.

Our shopping community can be assured of our commitment to provide a clean, friendly and safe, environment for all shoppers.

These are unique times and we thank our shoppers for their support, understanding and patience during the lockdown period.