Woman detained in store

2008-06-20 00:00

A 50-YEAR-old woman was taken to hospital for treatment on Thursday after being detained for six hours in a Pietermaritzburg supermarket for allegedly stealing a can of baked beans.

The woman, whose name is known to Weekend Witness, was caught by security guards soon after leaving the Pick ’n Pay supermarket at 2 pm with a can of beans she hadn’t paid for.

She was detained inside the shop until after 8 pm, apparently because police were slow to respond to several calls by the management to arrest her.

The woman’s family alleged that she was deprived of water and food, which caused her to collapse.

“They kept her near cold fridges without giving her food and water,” said the woman’s son.

The woman went shopping with a two-year-old child in a pram. She left the shop, having not bought the butter she had come for, when the guards found a can of beans in the pram.

It is not clear how the can ended up in the pram. Family members said the baby might have grabbed it from the shelf without the woman noticing.

About 10 family members went to the supermarket after it had closed. They entered the centre through the main door, but were refused entry to the supermarket. The woman’s nephew said, “We want to get into the shop and help our mother, but they cannot allow us in.

“My mother is asthmatic, and she might die if they continue to hold her.

“I called the police on 10111 countless times, but they are not arriving. Our mother would not steal a can of beans,” he added.

At about 8 pm an ambulance arrived and paramedics were allowed into the shop. They administered oxygen to the woman, who is asthmatic.

Police arrived before she was put into the ambulance.

Pick ’n Pay store manager Sethenjwa Gwala declined to comment. He referred queries to what he called a “support centre”, but declined to provide the centre’s contact details.

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