Do you dress up to shop? Couple fumes as security guard polices Capetonian over her shorts
Is it offensive to pop down to your local supermarket on a Sunday morning wearing shorts, a T-shirt and no shoes?
A security guard at a Shoprite supermarket in Parow, Cape Town, clearly thought so when student Pinky Nkomo entered the Shoprite Park store around midday on January 27.
“It was a really hot day and we’d been cleaning and painting our new flat when we decided to go to Shoprite to buy cleaning stuff,” her partner, Njabulo Maphumulo, told TimesLIVE.
“I had some paint on my clothes, so maybe that caught the security guard’s attention, too, but it was Pinky that he shouted at when we were already in the shop, in the fruit and veg section.”
The guard made a scene in front of other shoppers, Maphumulo said.
“He seemed to think Pinky was only wearing a T-shirt, so she actually lifted it to show him she was wearing shorts.”
They continued their shopping, but sought out the store manager before they left to report the humiliating incident.
“There were a number of people in the office, all claiming to be managers,” Maphumulo said. “The main one, who said she was the general manager, was very dismissive about our complaint. She actually made the whole experience worse for us.
“All we wanted to know was what the store policy was about clothing. Given what had happened to Pinky, it was a fair request,” he said. “But we never got an answer to that.”
The store manager undertook to get back to him on Monday, and when that didn’t happen, Maphumulo posted an account on Facebook on Tuesday.
Responding to TimesLIVE’s query, Shoprite said the company was “disappointed by the manner in which the security guard handled the situation and we apologise for any ill treatment that the customer experienced”.
“The matter is being addressed with the security provider to ensure that the guard gets the necessary upskilling to avoid future misunderstandings in this regard,” the company said. “The customer’s description of how the store manager handled the situation is also not acceptable and is being investigated.”
So does Shoprite/Checkers have a dress code for its customers?
It does not.
“We are sensitive about clothing and behaviour that could offend other customers, and treat cases on an ad hoc basis.
“But in this instance the customer should not have been confronted by the security personnel at all.”
* In 2016, an image of a Spar notice, with a “no pyjamas” image and the words “To avoid causing embarrassment to others, we ask that our customers are appropriately dressed when visiting the store”, went viral on social media. But at the time the Spar group insisted it had no policy limiting what its customers could wear.
Group marketing executive Mike Prentice cast doubt on the authenticity of the sign. “In terms of group policy, you can wear whatever you want when shopping in a Spar store,” he said. “We will never dictate what you can and cannot wear, within the bounds of decency, obviously.”