Armed robbers shot a policeman during a robbery of a SASSA pay-point on Wednesday. Photo: Envato Elements

Mall robberies in South Africa: How to stay safe and calm

Mall robberies are becoming more sophisticated and with silly season in full swing, this is what you need to know to stay safe.


Armed robbers shot a policeman during a robbery of a SASSA pay-point on Wednesday. Photo: Envato Elements

Mall robberies have been on the increase in South Africa. And, as the festive season nears, there is some risk that they could increase.

Knowing what to do in the event of a mall robbery could save your life according to Malcolm Stephens, Fidelity Security Group Executive New Business Development.

Stephens warned that crime is becoming far more sophisticated and robbers often have “inside information”. He urged anyone who has been involved in a robbery to seek counselling, even if they feel fine. 

Stephens also had some advice for how to respond if you get caught up in a store that is being robbed. 

  • Cooperate with robbers for your own safety. Listen to their instructions closely and follow their instructions
  • Try and keep as calm as possible. Everyone reacts in a different way but try and breathe deeply until help arrives
  • Do not use your cell phone whilst the robbery is in progress as this could agitate the assailants
  • Immediately try and find a sheltered spot and keep low on the ground
  • Take note of the assailants to pass information on to the authorities i.e. what they were wearing, any distinctive clothes, markings, jewellery etc. Try and remember what they look like i.e. height, weight, etc.
  • Ensure your children are kept close to you at all times. Do not let children wander off while you are shopping.
  • Do not shop with large amounts of cash or valuables.

If you are not in the store being robbed

  • Speak with the store personnel to firstly close the roller shutter doors. This is also standard operating procedures in many malls and move to the back of the store, out of sight.
  • Try and find a store closest to you and secure yourself as described above
  • Do not try and exit via the standard entry and exit points as these are the same points the robbers will be using. Many malls now have standard operating procedures to lock down the mall.

The silly season sometimes means robbers get silly, too. That’s both in public and in private spaces.

“Whether you were in the store being robbed, or just witnessed the incident in the Centre, you should seek counselling, regardless of how you might feel. It often takes some time to experience and deal with the post-traumatic stress following such robberies,” Stephens concluded.