Fortunately I wasn’t carrying any cash in Elle Vietjie; however she was holding my identity book and driver license [the only proof of documents I possess]; my gym card and bank card; not to mention yet-to-be-cashed-in lotto tickets, business cards, a copy of my credo, love letters from Angel and a photo of madam herself.
“How did you know that I’d been robbed?”
“While you were helping the old man get the dresses, I saw a woman behind you put her hand in your bag”
“What the fuck!”
“There she is.” said the sales lady, pointing to a woman an aisle away, seemingly minding her own business and going about her shopping.
“GO CALL SECURITY!” demanded one furious Harmony, whilst marching up to The Accused.
I confronted The Accused and she denied that she had taken my purse and even handed over her bag for inspection. By this stage the store security guard had arrived, along with several mall security offers too.
The Accused continue with her denials and the sales lady who had identified her, was very insistent that it was her. A commotion ensued with the sales lady and The Accused screaming at each other with their respective accusations and denials. As I had not felt, let alone seen anyone with their dirty paws in my handbag, I merely stood between them with my mouth agape.
Finally another member of the shopping brigade came over, and confirmed that The Accused had been standing right behind me at the time and whilst she hadn’t actually seen her with the purse; did note that the situation looked suspicious as the man and woman would look at each other over my head when I was taken down the dresses.
The head of the mall security arrived on site; listened to the story and said that there was enough evidence to take the woman into the cells and await the arrival of the police. Oh joy.
So we traipsed to the other end of the long shopping center, out the back entrance and into a secure section I had obviously never known existed. The Accused was locked in a cell and I was escorted to the managers officer to give my statement.
The manager said that there were several syndicates working in the mall with the following motis operandi:
one person distracts you – usually requesting you to assist with taking down items of clothing; whilst you are kindly assisting the elderly folk, another member of the crew helps themselves to the contents of your handbag, drops it on the floor and kicks it to accomplice number three on the other side of the clothing wrack. They then empty the wallet / purse of valuable contents and thereafter dispose of the wallet.
Since I had had no cash in my purse, the manager suggested that I return to the store with back-up [I had my own posse of security guards] and search under the rails and racks for my purse because chances are that once they established I had nothing to offer – they would have left the purse there. More especially had they seen The Accused being led off by security guards.
And so we made our very long way back to the other side of the mall [did I mention that I was wearing high heeled boots?] in order to search for Elle Vietjie.
Together with several staff members of Mr Price; we all looked under rails, racks, discarded items of clothing, boxes, shoes and plastic bags; concentrating in the scene of the crime but widening our search area towards the entrance. Nada.
After spending an inordinate amount of time on my hands and knees [did I mention that I was wearing a micro-mini skirt with those high heel boots?] without success, I had to admit defeat. I went to the sales counter and asked if could leave my contact details in the hope that once they tidied up the store at closing time, that Elle Vietjie might make a magical appearance.
With a heavy heart [and light bag] I made my way back across the very long corridors of the mall, to return to the security office where the fun and games were only just about to begin.