Police still waiting for robbers holed up in shopping mall ceiling

Malawi police say they are still searching for two suspected robbers who sneaked into the ceiling of the Chichiri Shopping Mall that houses the South African chain-stores, Game Stores and Shoprite, 24 hours after the drama began.

National police spokesman Dave Chingwalu, told PANA that the robbers are still holed up in the ceiling.

“They are still there,” he said, while an officer privy to the operation said the police had since recovered ropes the robbers used in climbing into the ceiling.

Chichiri Shopping Malll

“They have no way of coming down unaided now,” the officer told PANA Saturday.

“They are still in the ceiling, all places for exit have been sealed,” he said.

The drama began to unfold after the robbers climbed into the ceiling in the wee hours of Friday waiting to pounce on the shop.

“We saw two people suspiciously sneaking into the female toilet,” said a guard who was on duty Friday. “When we realised they were taking too long to come out we got suspicious and went to check only to find out that they had removed ceiling panels and climbed in.”

The guard said they quickly alerted police who came quickly.

Police suspect that the robbers planned to remove other ceiling panels and jump down into shopping halls to steal whatever they fancied.

“This is the second time this kind of incident is happening,” said the guard. “Their plan is to steal whatever they want and climb back up. When the shops open for business they will come down from the same toilet and behave like normal shoppers.”

During the first incident, the robbers successfully executed their mission but gave themselves away, he said.

“While awaiting for the day to break, they decided to help themselves to expensive whiskey and got too drunk,” he said. “Mid-morning workers got suspicious when they heard strange snoring sounds from upstairs.”

When security officers went up they found them sitting duck. “They were three of them in a drunken stupour with some of their loot strewn to their bodies, others lying about,” said the guard.

It is not clear how the latest incident will play out. Police are not sure whether the robbers are armed so are reluctant to send officers up.

Lobbing teargas into the ceiling is another option awaiting authorisation.

Police are meanwhile keeping sentry at all strategic corners of the shopping complex.

Chichiri Shopping Mall is Malawi’s largest shopping mall. It houses several local and international businesses, especially South African chain-stores.

The shopping complex opened for business normally on Saturday.

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