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Shoprite crackdown: Criminals get 24 life sentences, thousands more years behind bars

| Crime and security

By:  Nick Wilson – News24

Shoprite, SA’s largest retailer, says it has dealt a major blow against crime over the past three years, securing over 1 700 years of prison time – including 24 life sentences – for criminals.

The company, which has a range of brands in its portfolio including Shoprite, Checkers and Usave, said in a statement, it had also seen a year-on-year decline in armed robberies and burglaries, while successfully prosecuting a host of criminals who had committed crimes against it. It did not specify what these crimes were, but said the criminals concerned had received a total 1 384 years and three months – including 24 life sentences - in the past three years.

This number swelled to more than 1 700 if the number of suspects still awaiting trial, but were behind bars due to Shoprite successfully opposing bail, was taken into account. As far as awaiting trial suspects were concerned, they had been in custody for 395 years and eight months.

The retailer did not specify exactly how many criminals were affected by its efforts.

"Our top priority remains creating a safer environment for our customers and our employees," said Oswald Meiring, head of group security and loss prevention at Shoprite in the statement.

Securing arrests and sentences was also critical to deter and reduce crime, he added.

Shoprite established a command centre in 2018, from which a specialist team of investigators, data and crime analysts and law experts operated to protect customers and employees using technology, artificial intelligence and an intelligence network. This centre monitors the group’s large range of business assets, including over 3 000 stores, a fleet of 1 000 trucks, and 1 500 truck trailers.

It added that predictive and historical analysis of crime data, live information on strikes and protests, as well as security devices that can be triggered remotely, are just some of the ways in which criminal operations are stopped. 

The arrests were affected by the command centre working closely with the police and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), sharing intelligence with them to ensure that bail is also successfully opposed. The company has also employed an expert criminal lawyer to help with the prosecution of criminals, while data and crime analysts testify in support of aggravating circumstances during sentencing.  

Meiring said community members had also helped the group track down criminals.

"South Africans are tired of crime and want to play their part in bringing offenders to book. Calls to our tip-off line with information about persons of interest regularly assist us with tracking down repeat offenders who elude law enforcement".

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