Red shoes kick man into dock

Kathryn Kimberley

A ROMANTIC gesture by a cash-strapped Port Elizabeth man to give his girlfriend a surprise gift landed him in court this week – because the lovely red sandals he had chosen her were stolen.

Vuyisile Grootboom, 25, said he spotted a pair of red sandals at Woolworths in Greenacres Shopping Centre in November 2011 that he desperately wanted to give to his girlfriend. But he did not have the money, so he just took them.

Grootboom, a part-time gardener in Nelson Mandela Bay, was caught by security guards as he left the centre and the shoes were returned to Woolworths. The shop did not suffer any losses.

He pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a charge of theft. In his guilty plea read out by his Legal Aid lawyer in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court, Grootboom said he had been at Shoprite that morning to do his grocery shopping.

“I then went to Woolworths and saw a pair of ladies’ red sandals.

“I liked them and wanted to give them to my girlfriend. I did not have any money left so I stole them,” he said.

The shoes were worth about R200.

Grootboom said he and his girlfriend were still together three years later and had a child.

Magistrate Elliot Plaatjie said he regarded Grootboom’s guilty plea as a sign of remorse and willingness not to waste the court’s time and state resources. He convicted him in accordance with the plea.

“I am going to let you off with a warning,” Plaatjie said, but “this incident is now on your record and will count against you if you are ever found guilty of committing a similar offence”.

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