A Johannesburg woman with a flair for expensive fashion was devastated after designer clothes were allegedly stolen from her Mercedes Benz GL500 in Pietermaritzburg recently.
Gugu Leeuw from Johannesburg went to Pietermaritzburg with her two children to attend a funeral in Sobantu.
She booked into a rented apartment, from which she alleges her luxury items were stolen.
Speaking to Weekend Witness, she says they arrived on Thursday and unpacked.
They left Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton, and Tory Burch bags, and six pairs of designer Italian shoes in the car.
“The Tory Burch bag had shoes inside and my son’s clothes were in the boot. We went to Sobantu and came back at around 23:00. Around 02:00, we heard my car alarm going off. I got out of bed and went to my son and asked if it was my car and we went back to sleep.
“In the morning, when I opened the car, I found that everything was missing. That is when I became hysterical. It didn’t make sense.
“I ran across to the office to alert them about this. I also called the owner. My son’s Adidas sneakers and the Fabiani pants, which he was going to wear to the funeral, were also missing.
“My three pairs of sunglasses, which include the Alaia brand, which cost R7 999, and the other two, ranging around R6 999 each, stress medication and extra house keys [were also gone].
“I was so worried about the Dolce & Gabbana (D&G) which I didn’t bring with. I own the likes of D&G, and Christian Louboutin clutch bags that I left at home, little things that show the quality of the stuff that I do keep.
“I don’t do what other people do, taking photographs with labels. I keep labels. I was not making it up. They are not even showing me CCTV footage,” says the anxious Leeuw.
She adds that she was disappointed as the owner of the establishment was allegedly rude to her.
“They told me that there’s no sign of a break–in. It’s just my word that there were such [items]. They didn’t come to me or do a follow-up.
“I called my attorney, who advised me to go and report the matter to the police. I’ve lost so much and these people (owners) can’t be bothered and are not interested. For them it’s business as usual. As leisure clients, we cannot be taken for a ride. My children were traumatised.
“I follow them on Instagram. I contacted them and they told me about an apartment in Pelham. They sent images and I told my kids that we were taking it as we were going to Pietermaritzburg for a funeral; we will survive.
“I ended up paying for one night. If I had paid for the three nights upfront, they would have not given me back my money. I wonder why I only paid for one night, as I was not suspicious.
“I was not able to assist during the funeral arrangements as I was busy sorting out this case. They needed my car the most as it has the biggest boot. I want justice. It’s terrible exposure for guests,” she adds.
The owner, who cannot be named, said that when you go to any property you do so at your own discretion.
“It means you are also responsible for yourself. There was no forced entry to her car and her car alarm was not jammed. When the security company came, she was not around.
“She was out for breakfast. It does not make sense to anyone, from face value, to say ‘you broke into my car and stole valuables worth R150 000’. There was no forced entry. She didn’t even lose the keys and the remote was not jammed,” he says.
He adds that she doesn’t have a right to see the footage.
“What she is saying is irrelevant. The question is in South Africa, if you put items worth that amount in the back seat, not even in the boot, where are you from? Come on, I am not going to say if she is lying or not but the story doesn’t stand [up],” he adds.
Msunduzi Pietermaritzburg Tourism Association director Dumisani Mhlongo says such incidents paint a bad image of the establishment.
“They need to ensure that they have special consent papers before starting to operate.
“They also need to have a tourism membership certificate for community tourism organisations, which they need [from] the Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs Department to be registered at provincial level. When checking for compliance, all these three papers need to be mounted on the wall to confirm that this place is registered,” says Mhlongo.
He adds that visitors need to ensure they check these papers at the reception area.
“They also need to call our office and ask us if the place they are going to is registered or not, to ensure that they are safe.”
He says they can’t control things if people set themselves up and call themselves bed and breakfasts.
Mountain Rise police spokesperson Warrant Officer Panchael Singh confirmed the incident.
“She said when she heard the alarm, she didn’t come out because she is in a secure complex and there is a security guard.
“When she woke up in the morning, she discovered that all the items were removed from the vehicle. The value is about R151 000.
“The investigation is ongoing. A task team was put in place to try and locate the suspects,” he says.
Read original story on www.citizen.co.za