The management of local supermarket chain Choppies has revealed that they might face collapse if the spate of armed robberies that have been targeted at their countrywide operations are not stemmed with immediate effect.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard on Friday, Choppies Group Public Relations Officer, Ben Stegling, said they have so far lost huge amounts of money to armed robberies. He added that, while they appreciate that the robberies have so far not resulted in any casualties, a number of their employees were severely assaulted in the process. He also disclosed that they are now considered a serious security risk by insurance companies because of the frequent claims that they make.
“Only a handful of money was recovered from the total number of robberies that we have suffered. Our employees are also living in perpetual fear for their lives because of these gun toting criminals,” he said.
Stegling also revealed that management will seek new avenues through which they can tighten their security, adding that they have installed new CCV TV cameras and beefed up their security personnel. He further said they may advocate for the security companies to be allowed to carry arms.
For his part, the president of Botswana Retailers Association, Autlwetse Chimisa, also expressed worry at the increasing incidents of armed robberies which he said are bad for business. He blamed some retailers for ignoring advice and keeping huge amounts of cash in their business premises, by so doing setting themselves up as easy targets for criminals.
Chimisa also revealed that Choppies is not an active member of their association, which makes it difficult for them to advise the retailer as they are not aware of their problems. He shot down Choppies’ advocacy for security personnel to be armed, saying that it is a potential risk as the security personnel might turn the guns on their clients and customers.
A number of Choppies operations have been robbed of millions of pula in the past, the most recent being in Ramotswa and Phakalane. The Phakalane Choppies was robbed of P 100 000.
The criminals used mine explosives to destroy the safe.
Ramotswa police station commander, Superintendent Sarah Gabathusi, said that they have so far arrested two suspects while the third suspect is still at large. She said the two arrested suspects originate from Molepolole Village, but were nailed at their place of residence in Mogoditshane.
“It is too early to confirm whether any money has been recovered from them, but information will be availed as investigations continue,” she said. She appealed to the members of the public to assist them with any information that may lead to the arrest of the suspects.