'Who steals Chappies after buying groceries?': Shopper who 'forgot' to pay for gum spends hours in jail

04 February 2019 - 08:18
A pack of chewing gum has landed a woman in trouble.
A pack of chewing gum has landed a woman in trouble.
Image: Thinkstock

A 52-year-old woman is to appear in the Tzaneen Magistrate’s Court on Monday for a stealing a pack of chewing gum.

Lucy Moagi was approached by a security guard as she exited Shoprite at Tzaneen Crossing shortly after 3pm on Friday, having paid R665 for her groceries.

According to her niece, Liz Letsoalo, Moagi picked up a pack of chewing gum at the check-out and was holding it with her cellphone, when she absent-mindledly put both into her handbag at the check-out.

“She had it in her hand with her phone. She then put both the phone and the chewing gum in her bag (right in front of cashier) so she could take out her wallet. She forgot about the chewing gum in the process,” Letsoalo said. 

When stopped as she left the store, 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 until around 2am, Letsoalo said.

She took to Twitter to share her aunt’s plight: “@Shoprite_SA, my aunt in jail as we speak for buying her groceries and forgetting to pay for chewing gum, and you called the police on her. Who steals Chappies after buying groceries?!”

Letsoalo said her aunt was a regular customer at that branch of Shoprite.

“She buys groceries for her home as well as the small NGO she works for. She was humiliated at the store and they wanted to chain her, but she refused,” she said.

“Photos were taken of her and she says she was called names.” 

Shoprite maintains that Moagi was released at 11pm on Friday evening, having been detained in a holding cell on her own.

She had it in her hand with her phone. She then put both the phone and the chewing gum in her bag (right in front of cashier) so she could take out her wallet. She forgot about the chewing gum in the process. She offered to pay when they realized this and they refused
Liz Letsoalo via Twitter

The retail group’s official response was: “We are sorry that this happened to our customer and believe that such cases must be treated with utmost care and regard for respect.

“The matter is being investigated and if it is found that it was mismanaged at store level, stern action will be taken.

“Shoplifting is an ongoing challenge in the retail industry through which vast amounts of money is annually lost, placing the success of businesses and the job security of millions of people at risk.

“All incidences of alleged unpaid-for items leaving our stores must unfortunately be investigated and our stance is do this without discrimination against race or stature in society.

“The SAPS are always involved to investigate such cases and for the law to take its course, and we cannot comment on their further processes.”

A Shoprite spokesman told TimesLIVE that it was not company policy to photograph suspected shoplifters and that any photos taken of Moagi would be deleted.


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