Eastern Cape police are searching for two armed balaclava-clad suspects who stormed BT Ngebs Mall in Mthatha to rob a clothing store on Sunday morning.
The robbers fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, a number of cellphones belonging to shop employees and a jacket, said police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci.
The brazen attack stunned morning shoppers, who were trapped inside locked supermarkets and clothing stores, as police combed the mall fearing the robbers may have hidden among shoppers.
One of the shoppers, Inga Mgobozi, said she was among dozens of people forced to stay inside a locked Pick n Pay for more than an hour during the mall lockdown.
Soci said the attack happened at 9.40am.
She said a store manager was herded to the back office before she was forced to hand over the store’s business takings from a safe.
“No shooting occurred and police are busy combing the mall for clues in search of links that can lead to the tracking and arrest of the suspects.”
Describing the ordeal, Mgobozi said: “At 9.50am as I was leaving Pick n Pay, I noticed armed cops as I was exiting the shop. They told everyone to go back inside as there was an armed robbery in progress. We were told the robbers could even be inside Pick n Pay. They said no one leaves and no one comes inside the store.”
“Inside the store, it was packed and we stayed for more than an hour. At some time around 12.00pm, we were told we could leave. We were escorted by security guards to our cars.”
BT Ngebs City Mall marketing manager Noluthando Makalima later texted: “The situation is under control.”