Assault shocks client

2019-07-12 14:21

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A woman was horrified when a manager at the local Builders Express store allegedly punched a man who had approached her in the store asking for help.

She had in fact agreed to help the young man by buying him a bucket, soap and sponge so that he could find work washing cars.

Jess Hart told The Witness on Thursday that when she confronted the manager for his behaviour he told her that the man had previously stolen items from the store.

Jess Hart said she was at the store on Armitage Road on Tuesday morning to get some supplies when she was approached by a well-spoken young man who “looked rough around the edges”.

Hart said the man asked her initially if she had a gardening job for him, which she did not.

He then asked if she could buy him some supplies to wash cars to which she agreed.

“We live in hard times in South Africa where the majority of young people do not have jobs and have been failed in every way by government from schooling to housing.

“Occurrences like these in shops are not uncommon. Soap and a bucket were the least I could do to help him and make him feel he wasn’t invisible,” she said.

Hart said as she proceeded to the counter with the young man, the store manager intervened and asked the man to follow him to the back of the shop.

“I assumed he wanted to talk to him, and maybe ask him not come back due his appearance … and perhaps to search him in case he had slipped something into his pockets. Before I knew it, I heard a bang and the young man appeared from around the corner clutching his eye. He had been punched.

“Apparently, the manager and another accosted him in the room [at the back], with a young woman as witness who said nothing. I asked [the manager] what he had done and he said the young man is known to steal from the shop. He did not deny punching the young man,” said Hart.

“I asked if he had photos, reports or evidence of this behaviour. He said he did but none was forthcoming.

“When I asked the security [guard] if he had been informed of this man and given a photo so as to ban him from the shop, he said he had not,” said Hart.

The woman said she was beyond appalled by the incident and failed to understand why the man was assaulted. “I was not in distress or danger, and the young man I was helping was not a threat to anyone. He did not have any stolen goods on him, he just looked rough around the edges and in dire need of some help. I don’t care what he looked like or what his circumstances were or whether or not he has been previously accused of theft. It is never acceptable to assault someone in this manner,” she said.

After handing over the car washing supplies to the young man outside the store, Hart said the man told her that he would lay charges against the store manager.

Attempts to get hold of the manager concerned were unsuccessful on Thursday as the local store manager on duty on Thurday said it was against the company’s policy to give out a colleague’s contact number.

However, the company’s call centre manager told The Witness that they were aware of the incident and promised that they would revert back with a statement on the matter.

The Witness had not been contacted by the company by the time of going to print on Thursday.

Hart later told The Witness that she was contacted by the company’s head office who told her they were reviewing footage and doing a full investigation. “They said the man who was attacked had been banned from the store and had been issued with a warning previously. They will let me know what comes of it,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  assault

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