Heidelberg Man Dies After Alleged Shoprite Cold Storage Confinement for Stealing Chocolate Bar

Heidelberg Man Dies After Alleged Shoprite Cold Storage Confinement for Stealing Chocolate Bar

  • Bandile Shabalala, 33, died after allegedly being locked in a Shoprite cold storage room for 11 hours for reportedly stealing a chocolate bar
  • Shoprite has expressed condolences and is cooperating with the police investigation
  • Community outrage over the incident led to protests and damage to the store

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Heidelberg man dies in Shoprite cold storage
Bandile Shabalala, 33, died after a Shoprite manager allegedly locked him inside a cold storage room for allegedly stealing a chocolate bar. Images: @Abramjee
Source: Twitter

On Monday, tensions flared as Heidelberg residents sought justice for 33-year-old Bandile Shabalala, who died after allegedly being locked inside a Shoprite cold storage room for reportedly stealing a chocolate bar.

Public order police were deployed outside the Shoprite to maintain peace.

Officers were seen collecting evidence from the scene while angry community members expressed their fury by throwing stones at the store, damaging one of its doors.

The initial incidents

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The incident occurred on Sunday when Shabalala, accompanied by two friends who managed to flee the scene, was apprehended by security officials.

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He was subsequently locked inside the cold storage room, where he remained for approximately 11 hours.

His lifeless body was discovered on Monday morning outside Avbob premises adjacent to the Shoprite store.

News24 has confirmed that Shabalala was unemployed.

Community members revealed that this form of punishment—locking suspected thieves in cold storage—was not unprecedented.

However, they noted that typically, individuals were released after about 30 minutes.

Shoprite sends its condolences

Retailer Shoprite stated that they would cooperate with the South African Police Services (SAPS); however, they could not give any details regarding the allegations of Shabalala's death

In a statement, the supermarket chain extended its condolences to the victim’s family following their loss. It emphasised the seriousness of the allegations and committed to taking necessary steps pending a full investigation.

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See the post below:

"The supermarket chain extends its condolences to the family following their loss. The allegations are seen in an extremely serious light and the necessary steps will be taken pending the outcome of a full investigation."
"We cannot comment on the details of the incident as it is a police matter, and the local SAPS should be contacted for more information. We always give our full cooperation and provide all available information to the SAPS to assist their investigation."

Speaking to IOL Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Noxolo Kweza stated that Ratanda police have opened a case of assault common and an inquest docket.

“This follows an alleged incident where two men accused of shoplifting were locked at the back of the store. One of the men, aged 33, during closing time, complained of stomach aches, paramedics were called, and he was declared dead on the scene.”

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Mzansi outraged by the incident

Initial reports given to police by the community mistakenly identified Shabalala as a 13-year-old boy, which sparked even more outrage.

@mgazi_sabe16526 commented:

"Someone must be arrested for this. That is so cruel, store manager, guards...must be arrested."

@TshilidziTuwan said:

"They will pay much more than the chocolate."

@TumeloPilane added:

"It is murder."

Eight-year-old Eastern Cape child and four others killed in shooting spree

In a different report, Briefly News noted that an eight-year-old woman and three other men were ruthlessly killed in a shooting spree in the Eastern Cape.

The incidents occurred in Willowvale in the Amathole District Municipality on 19 May, in which the victims were shot dead while in a car.

According to the SAPS, the incidents happened in the early hours of 19 May in the Nxanxashe section. Six people were reportedly travelling in a vehicle when they were shot and killed.

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The police do not know how many people allegedly shot the victims. The police also found another person who was shot dead and left inside his vehicle a kilometre away from the crime scene.

Source: Briefly News

Reitumetse Makwea avatar

Reitumetse Makwea (Editor) Reitumetse Makwea is a Current Affairs journalist at Briefly News. She has a National diploma, Advanced diploma and Post-graduate diploma in Journalism from the Tshwane University of Technology. She first worked as a student journalist and freelancer for Caxton's Record Noweto and later joined The Citizen News, where she worked for a little over 3 years covering politics, environmental news, business, education, and health. Reitumetse joined Briefly News in 2024. Email: reitumetse.makwea@briefly.co.za

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