When Dean‘s Dad posted this update on Facebook about how The Zone security harassed and robbed Dean, I was shocked. I am accustomed to mall security harassing me about taking photos, eating in areas not designated for eating and generally existing but Dean’s experience takes mall security harassment to a different level altogether. This is blatant harassment, corruption and robbery.
The Zone seems to outsource security to Servest which provides a range of commercial services. The account below is in Dean‘s words. All I can say is be very careful when you visit The Zone and don’t let yourself be caught alone with these bullies.
Update (2012-06-11): Servest’s PR people have been in touch with me and are looking into the incident.
For many parents, a Saturday night is one in which their children go out. Many kids go ‘clubbing’ all around Johannesburg, attend movies and/or go out for dinner. Letting kids go out with their friends is always a concern but one in which most parents trust to be ok. Many parents assume that their kids stay together with their friends, have their cell phones on them and even know the police number. One might not understand this but here is my story….
To put this into perspective, I’m am an 18 year old, who is currently studying at Witwatersrand University. I try my hardest to succeed in whatever I can and be the best person I can be. But in every person, there is a breaking point or a weakness, one in which I discovered last night (9 June 2012). I went to Rosebank shopping mall to meet a friend. Whilst in Rosebank, I went for coffee, walked around and eventually went outside onto some type of patio/roof. (If one knows Rosebank well: Go to Aldo, go up the escalator and walk straight where there is a glass door to an outside area. That glass door was open and thus I proceeded onto the patio). After being outside for a bit, at about 11pm, my friend and I decided to leave as we were both leaving the centre.
As I was walking back inside, 2 security guards came and told me I was not allowed to be there. As the door was open, I had no intension of trespassing or breaking any sort of law whilst I was outside. I’ve never been an avid fan of Rosebank, but as of late, I have been there on Saturday nights to see movies, go for dinner with friends and meet friends. Not knowing I could not be there, I apologized to the guards and started walking. However, they then proceeded to tell me that I need to go to the control room. Not trying to make a fuss or anything, I agreed to go with them and kindly asked them to let my friend go, which they did. Whilst walking with the guards, I explained that I had no intension of doing anything harmful. I then proceeded to introduce myself, with my first Name, thinking this would be some silly situation. We proceeded in a lift, where we went two floors underground. We then landed up in a basement parking lot which started to slowly shock me as I realized I had no cell phone reception. Being a person who is aware and one who was alone, I took a cautious thesis of trying to have some resource for my own benefit, if there could be the worse. In the basement, I continued to follow the two security guards. I kept explaining that I had no intension of doing something wrong, which was correct as I had been trying to enjoy my night. It was at this point that one of the guards turned around and said that I should not change my statement or they could possibly call the police. It was at this moment that my attitude completely changed.
As I entered this room, I walked into some form of a tea room, or at least, an area where there was a kettle. As I proceeded into the control room after gaining the guards permission to enter, I was introduced to the ‘head’ controller, a young, tall man. This was obviously the control room, due to the large amount of monitors with video footage of Rosebank. In the room, I started getting a form of a casual questioning. I was asked questions such as where I live, how often I come/have been to Rosebank, what I do for a living and the question that stunned me: “Were you fucking someone on the roof?” I proceeded to answer that I live near Sandton City, where I was further asked where about which I did not answer. I said I was a student and told them that I hardly come to Rosebank. As mentioned above, I only come to Rosebank when I have to as I have never been an avid fan of the centre.
After some time, the ‘head’ guard proceeded to inform me that if his manager or someone saw that I was on the CCTV footage, I could be in trouble and the police would have to be called. As I was alone, I kept my mind focused on being calm as my frustration level started intensifying. I continued to apologize, stating that I never knew I could not be there and I had no intension of breaking any law. What struck me next was this: The ‘head’ guard then accused me of being with 3 other people which was not true. After informing the guard that I was not with 3 other people, he proceeded to say that he had also seen other people in the same place I was. As many of you may realize, by now I kept thinking of what the **** I was doing in this control room if I had broken no laws. If they wanted to call the cops, I told them they could as I had not done anything wrong. To a large extent, I fully understand they were doing their job but where does the line get drawn?
But why would this end there? To top it up, the guard then told me he would delete the footage and replace it with other footage. I had no clue as to why he was doing this, but apparently it was for my own benefit. I shut my mouth and continued to agree with him. After all there were 3 guards and one of me. What was I meant to do? I had no cell phone reception and did not even want them to see what phone I had… Yes they are security guards but what type of guards does this? I continued to agree with the guards as I had no intension of having more trouble. They kept telling me we having a ‘man to man’ conversation but if I had to sum it up, I would say much different. As this ‘situation’ started concluding, the guards then told me I needed to buy them some drinks for what they had done to me. I’m no idiot! They tried manipulating me, but I seemed to know better, at least I thought I did.
We left this control room, where the two guards who had apprehended me continued to walk with me. As we exited the lift of the first floor, they told me I needed to buy them drinks. I said I would take them to sweets from heaven but to be realistic, I had the intension of calling a friend to come help me. But these guards had better ideas. They expected me to walk with them to the garage shop to buy those drinks as it was cheaper. Now I’m no fool and thus considered: Why would guards make me walk to a garage if I was paying? I told them I refused to, so they said that they wanted money. As I took my wallet out, and opened it, the one guard was quick to grab some of my money and then told me I could leave. Without arguing I did, and left Rosebank.
I thus get back to my original point. I am 18 years old. I’m not the smallest kid and I’m not the most stupid. I have a strong mind, the ability to try associating myself with any individual and even have the power to stay calm in some intense situations. But what about your daughter who is 15 years old or perhaps your 13 years old son who is new to the Saturday nights, where he and his friends go see movies or walk around shopping centres. We focus on all these public companies and government officials who are corrupt. However, maybe it’s time to consider a different perspective. Maybe we need to look at a corporate, which spends a fortune on advertising their company and trying to gain consumers in a positive manner, yet has indirect corruption in a sector of their business. By that I’m referring to Old Mutual who own Rosebank.
Unfortunately, we live in a corrupt world. Not everything in this world is perfect and not everything will ever be perfect. But our Country, which we call home, is one which can be terrifying. I don’t need to gain self-success from this story. I need to make others aware of how vulnerable one can be, even when least expected. The ability to keep calm will only ensure your safety. But as for my ability to go back to Rosebank, or inform others of this shopping centre is one which will be depicted in the most negative manner. To a great extent, the security guards were doing their job, however, I personally feel violated. That is due to the fact that I did not jump over some fence to walk into the area I was in. I did not harm anyone or try trespass into someone’s private property. I simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I apologized, ensured I understood I was wrong (even though I feel I was not, due to the fact that a door was open to go outside) and even agreed to follow the procedures of going to the control room. But to be threatened, accused and have money taken from me is something I do not appreciate. So the next time you go to Rosebank, think again. Consider if that’s the shopping Centre you want your children to go to.