Parent warns of ‘inappropriate’ behaviour of undercover man at mall

2010-03-30 00:00

SUSPICION is swirling through Pietermaritzburg after a resident sent out a mass e-mail warning parents about a man lurking about at Pick n Pay in the Liberty Midlands Mall.

Greg Groenewald said the man has shown conspicuous interest in young children.

It has been verified that this man is, in fact, an undercover security guard working for Pick n Pay, but Groenewald said his behaviour is still unacceptable.

In the e-mail, Groenewald wrote: “I would like to warn parents who are taking their children shopping to be extra vigilant … of a man who has, on two separate occasions, showed undue attention to my child of three-and-a-half.

“His modus operandi is basically to hang around shopping aisles with a trolley that has a token amount of groceries … but not doing any actual shopping. He spends time watching mothers who are shopping with their little ones and then offers the child sweets while the parent’s back is turned.

“On both occasions he was wearing a floppy hat that covers his face. Why wear a floppy hat in this way if his intentions are okay? He is well-spoken.”

The e-mail circulated yesterday morning.

In response, Pick n Pay regional general manager Wim Theron said: “We would like to assure all our customers that the man in question — who, incidentally, is an undercover security agent contracted to Pick n Pay — was immediately removed from the store and we are launching a thorough investigation into this matter.

“Pick n Pay views all allegations such as these with the utmost seriousness, and we would like to encourage customers who notice inappropriate behaviour in any of our stores to immediately report this to the store manager, or lay a charge at the nearest police station.”

Mall manager Cassy Fourie said the incident — which was not reported to it or the police — is being investigated with Pick n Pay management. “We urge all our shoppers to report any suspicious activities to centre management immediately on (033) 341 9570 or security on (033) 341 9576.”

Police Inspector Joey Jeevan said: “If any of the allegations are found to be true, further investigation will take place.”

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