Cape Town mall apologises after pensioner ends up wetting herself outside 'malfunctioning' pay toilet

2019-06-04 13:10
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A shopping trip to a Cape Town pensioner's favourite mall quickly turned into everyone's worst nightmare when she had no luck accessing a paid toilet facility, and ended up being forced to wet herself.

The 69-year-old woman told News24 on Tuesday that the embarrassing experience happened at The Paddocks Shopping Centre in Milnerton on Saturday, after her son-in-law picked her up so she could buy some groceries.

Struggling with a bladder infection, she rushed to the toilet, but could not get in because the access machine at the door did not want to accept her R2 coin.

"I tried different R2 coins. The coins kept coming out and, by this time, I was frantic," she said, explaining that she was physically unable to make it to the next nearest bathrooms.

She said she had hoped for a customer or cleaner to exit the bathroom, so she could gain access, but she had no such luck.

"Eventually, I stood there and wet myself. Luckily I had my jeans on. But it was terrible. I felt so humiliated. I am quite a strong woman, but I felt so degraded."

She said that, while crying and shaking, she had asked a security guard for help in speaking to management, but had little luck and decided to go home so she could clean up.

'We firmly believe in everyone's right to dignity'

The shopping centre's management has since apologised for the incident and said they were investigating the option of converting their machines to accept multiple coins, instead of just a single R2.

"From the outset, we regret that the unfortunate incident took place. We have made several attempts to make contact with the person involved to convey our sincere apology, as well as to see how we can assist.

"We are most distressed to have heard of the ordeal and understand the anger and embarrassment," management told News24 in an emailed response.

WATCH: Pee'd off! Angry and 'pressed', desperate woman relieves herself on FNB floor

"We firmly believe in everyone's right to dignity. We pride ourselves on being a community centre, where all are welcome and comfortable."

Management said there was a fully functional disabled toilet near to where the incident happened, as well as on the food court side.

The centre explained that it had seen a vast reduction in damage to facilities since introducing the R2 pay/lock toilet system, which meant a better "customer experience".

"We confirm that there are strong standing instructions for Paddocks Security and cleaning staff to assist shoppers, if they do not have R2 or do not wish to pay. Our customers are always welcome to use the facilities without charge."

Converting the machines

All shops also had tags, which customers could use to gain free entry. It had since briefed staff on their bathroom mandate.

While it checked all coin machines several times a week, a contractor had checked the machines and said all were functioning properly.

"Unfortunately, it appears that the machine did not read the specific R2s used at the time."

It hoped that converting the machines to accept multiple coins would prevent anyone else experiencing the same distress.

Management was in the process of contacting the pensioner to properly convey regret over what happened.

The pensioner told News24 that she was pleased with the response and just wanted to ensure it never happened to anyone else.

"I will always use Paddocks. I love that centre and it feels safe there... I am happy."

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