Sweet sequel for fearless shoppers who stopped Hayfields robbery

2014-07-02 00:00

LAST week’s Hayfields Mall jewellery heist had a pleasant sequel yesterday when NWJ, the victims, honoured the fearless shoppers who helped put some of the robbers behind bars.

The store presented the seven people, including a 73-year-old woman who initially raised the alarm, with items of jewellery. The others included a bodyguard from the Msunduzi Municipality and a trolley assistant who chased down one of the suspects and arrested him, a cashier from Pick n Pay and a mall security guard.

Some would not be named as they feared retribution from the robbers who escaped.

The shop owner gave the seven tokens of appreciation and they all celebrated with cake.

The store was robbed of more than R160 000 worth of jewellery by a gang consisting of five men.

Describing what unfolded that day, a salesperson said one man had entered the shop pretending to be looking for an engagement ring, but she was suspicious and kept her hand on the panic button.

Two more men entered the shop, and one closed the door. One man grabbed her head and pressed it to a counter. However, she was still able to press the panic button.

Another man pointed a gun at her and ordered her to keep quiet.

“I started praying that this must be over and it was over in two minutes, and they were arrested in 15 minutes,” she said.

Diana Hawthorn (73), who entered the shop during the robbery, said she was not afraid to raise the alarm when she realised a robbery was in progress. “On the day I was not scared or afraid of them as I even managed to shout for help.”

A 20-year-old cashier who heard the screams and then joined the chase for the suspects said, “I heard the scream… I was not afraid but later as I was thinking about the incident, I realised that I was in danger, chasing an armed person while I was not.”

Another hero, a 35-year-old bodyguard who was shopping with his wife at the time, fired shots at the criminals as they fled. “I fired eight shots at them from different positions as if I was with other people. That helped in disrupting them and made them part ways.”

He chased one suspect and arrested him. And a 31-year-old trolley assistant used his pepper spray and arrested another suspect armed with a screwdriver.

The store owner said the selfless actions of the seven showed that crime could be beaten. “When criminals attack we turn away because we don’t want to be part of that, but the community in this shopping centre was able to assist and arrest suspects.

“I am blessed to be in a community that loves us so much. We are blessed,” she said.

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