Video about 'kidnapping of woman' at shopping centre is fake news — police
No woman was kidnapped at gunpoint at Boulders Shopping Centre in Midrand on Tuesday, provincial police have confirmed.
This comes after a man took to social media and claimed he had just witnessed the kidnapping of a woman in front of her children. The post was shared on social media and portrayed as an incident of human trafficking.
“I just experienced the shock of my life. I am in the parking lot at Boulders Shopping Centre and I literally locked myself in the car. There was a lady parked next to me and two guys came in a [Volkswagen] Tiguan R-line and took guns and pointed at everyone. I ran for my life.
“They took a lady, an old person, and they left the children. They took the lady and put her in the white Tiguan R-line with tinted windows. Guys this thing is real. The children are crying and they don’t know where their mother went to,” the man said in a video.
He claimed police were on the scene to take statements from eyewitnesses.
Peddling fake news
Gauteng police have denied the kidnapping claim but did confirm that a robbery had taken place. They said the video was related to “the continuous peddling of fake news relating to human trafficking”.
Police spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters said at 11am on Tuesday, a woman was allegedly robbed of an undisclosed amount of money at the centre.
“Preliminary investigations suggest two unknown suspects travelling in an SUV may have followed the woman from a bank where she had reportedly withdrawn a large amount of money. The suspects are said to have accosted the victim in the basement parking at the shopping centre and demanded money from her at gunpoint,” Peters said.
The centre said in a statement that a couple who had withdrawn a large sum of money at Carlswald Lifestyle Shopping Centre in Midrand was followed to the Boulders centre.
No shots were fired during the incident.
“Please be aware of your surroundings at all times and report any suspicious activity to centre management or on-site security. The safety of our customers, tenants and employees is the highest priority,” said the centre.
Peters said the suspects made off with a handbag and other valuables. The woman and her six-year-old son were not injured.
Gauteng police commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela warned that no good could come from the spreading of fake news.
“The anonymity that often surrounds the identity of the creators or sources of fake news confirms that the intention can only be hostile, seeking to unsettle community-police relations which the police are working so hard to build and restore,” he said.