It started out innocently enough. Two girls looking for a can of black beans. That all changed when the mall sirens started blaring, people started running, and security guards started herding people to the closest exits. As someone who startles at the slightest sound and is terrified of the thought of being stampeded to death, this was a recipe for Lise to have a heart attack.
In the madness, I lost Sarah while I scurried out the front door, trying to remember the closest exit and also hoping that armed gunmen weren’t about to come running down the mall corridors. My arm was then grabbed by an employee who shoved me towards the front door while other customers were pushing each other down aisles to get out. I found Sarah, held on to her arm for dear life as we watched the Explosive Unit of the South Africa police service enter the mall as rumours flew. Apparently there had been a bomb threat at one end of the mall and panic ensued. The entire complex poured out of all the doors as people scrambled to get in their cars and get as far away from the building as quickly as possible.
Sarah and I basically sprinted across the parking lot, with each of us narrating our worst case scenario and wondering how we were going to get home. I love living in East London, but I wasn’t prepared to spend my last moments in a South African mall parking lot. Luckily, a friendly bus mechanic took pity on us and we got a lift straight to our front door in a decrepit old city bus that was on a test drive. And after all that, we didn’t even get the can of beans.