Magistrate chucks out chewing gum case, family demand 'true justice'
The family of a "respectable" woman held in a police cell after being accused of shoplifting a pack of chewing gum are relieved she will not face a criminal trial - but plan to pursue a civil case after her ordeal.
Lucy Moagi, 52, appeared in the Tzaneen Magistrate’s Court on Monday where the charge was dropped, her niece, Liz Letsoalo, told TimesLIVE.
"She is glad to have no case hanging over her head for something anyone can do - forget to pay for a small item after paying for groceries," Letsoalo said of her aunt.
Moagi was accused of stealing a pack of chewing gum by a security guard, who apprehended her as she exited Shoprite at Tzaneen Crossing shortly after 3pm on Friday.
According to her niece, Moagi had picked up a pack of chewing gum at the check-out and was holding it with her cellphone, when she absentmindedly put both into her handbag at the check-out. When stopped as she left the store, having paid R665 for her groceries, Moagi apologised and offered to pay for the chewing gum, but store management called the police, and she was escorted, on foot, to the nearby police station, where she was detained.
She was released after paying bail of R300.
Her niece said she was there until 2am, while Shoprite stated Moagi was released at 11pm on Friday evening.
Afterwards, her claustrophobic aunt told the family of the fear she had felt at being locked up in a confined space.
Letsoalo said the family are seeking legal help to pursue a civil case, as they wish to "close this tragic chapter with dignity and justice".
She said: "The family is very angered by the incident and seeks for justice to be done beyond just dropping the charges.
"We believe that she was done wrong on multiple levels, and that this has tainted her image as a respectable and elderly member of the community.
"We are exploring how to best legally pursue this going forward, in order for us to get her true justice."