Malls lock down on abduction threat

2010-03-25 00:00

WITH the threat of human trafficking under the spotlight in the province ahead of the Fifa World Cup, Gateway Theatre of Shopping has resolved to guard against abductions.

The shopping centre management is working with a task team that includes the police, the uMhlanga crisis team and the provincial human trafficking division, which will investigate tightening security following several reports of attempted abductions around Durban and surrounding areas.

The shopping centre recently had to deal with the alleged near abduction of a five-year-old girl. The Witness reported last week that the kidnapping attempt happened four weeks ago while the girl’s mother was watching over her and her two-year-old brother from the opposite side of the fish pond where they were playing.

The girl’s mother will be meeting journalists tomorrow to talk about their ordeal.

Gateway centre manager Adrian Raw said through initiatives like these, they can challenge and overcome the perception of criminals who think that shopping malls are a soft target for kidnappings.

Both the centre’s management team and security personnel will be trained in issues relating to human trafficking.

“Security on a whole is our focus for the next few months, but some emphasis is being placed on human trafficking as it seems to be a major concern for many,” said Raw.

Even beyond this special task team, Raw said they have extensive plans for security.

“We have an excellent on-site security team comprising uniformed and undercover personnel.

“We have long-standing relationships with the community policing forum, uMhlanga crisis team, the SA Police Service and Business Against Crime. During busy periods we even have enlisted the support of the South African Defence Force to increase the security presence at the mall,” he said.

Different malls contacted by The Witness have declined to state whether they are in a position to handle a lockdown should a child go missing within their premises, saying this would compromise their security.

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