A ‘PEEPING Tom’ was arrested at Beacon Bay Retail Park in East London just moments after a teenage girl was secretly filmed trying on new bathing costumes.
The incident occurred inside a changeroom cubicle at the Pick n Pay clothing store just after 1pm on Sunday.
The married Gonubie resident, 36, appeared in the East London Magistrate’s Court yesterday and was not asked to plead. He was released on warning and will appear in court again on February 26.
He cannot be named until he pleads.
Family of the teenager, whose identity is being protected, said yesterday they were hoping for a conviction that would result in the man’s name being registered on the sexual offences register.
He is being charged with crimen injuria, which is the unlawful and intentional impairment of someone’s dignity.
The man was arrested by Duncan Village police spokesman Captain Stephen Marais in the parking lot of the shopping centre.
Shoppers, who chased after the man in response to the cries of the teenager’s mother, had cornered him seconds earlier as he tried to flee in a bakkie.
Marais said the man’s cellphone was confiscated and handed over to the cyber unit to retrieve the evidence.
The 19-year-old victim, a Cape Peninsula University of Technology student who is visiting her father for the holidays, was trying on bathing suits when she noticed a Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone on the floor filming her.
The girl’s mother said: “There is a 2cm opening at the bottom of the cubicle, so as my daughter was standing there trying to figure out what was happening the phone disappeared and appeared again.
“She then stepped on top of it and picked it up. My daughter then heard the door of the next cubicle opening and someone running off.”
The woman said she was standing in a queue waiting to pay for some items when her daughter came rushing to her, crying.
“As she was explaining the story, the guy approached and said ‘excuse me’ and grabbed the phone.
“He then fled and I screamed to alert security to stop him,” she said.
The mother and another woman then chased after the man who was parked behind the shopping centre’s building.
“He got into his bakkie and I leaned on top of the bonnet to stop him from fleeing.
“He kept on apologising but then took off. I yelled ‘stop that car’ and people who were driving by assisted us by blocking the guy from escaping.”
The 43-year-old mother said one motorist had overtaken the man and blocked him from going further while another motorist parked him in from behind.
He allegedly deleted the fitting room video as the mother went to confront him.
“Everybody was helpful. Had the police not arrived at the scene immediately after the incident happened something bad was going to happen to that man. People were angry.
“We were all disgusted by his actions. I reckon it is not the first time he has done this,” the woman said.
Retail Park centre manager Urshula Pape said they were aware of the incident.
“The CCTV operator alerted the security team as the suspect ran out of the store and coordinated the team to the area where the citizen’s arrest took place.” – Zwanga Mukhuthu