By Andile Sicetsha 

A Woolworths store at the Pavilion Shopping Centre, in Kwa-Zulu Natal, has come under fire after a shopper, Sonal Madhoo, took to Facebook to reveal how she spotted a security camera in the fitting room she was in.

On Sunday, 11 November, Madhoo tagged the Woolworths Facebook page in her post, calling them out on how awkward it was to have to use the fitting room knowing that she may have been watched by the ‘all-seeing eye’.

In relation to the labour laws of South Africa, it is a legal requirement for any business to inform its staff as well as the customers of the presence of CCTV security cameras in the premises. Furthermore, according to an article on Insurance Chat, about the laws around CCTV in the workplace, it is stated that

“[businesses] are also legally not allowed to place cameras in private areas such as employee and customer changing rooms, and toilets. The footage from these areas is not admissible in a court of law, and neither is footage if you have not told your employees that they are being recorded.”

Woolworths responds to CCTV controversy

We attempted to contact the Woolworths store at the Pavilion Shopping Centre to find out whether there was a sign visible to all customers that warned them of the presence of CCTV cameras in the fitting rooms.

However, we were met with hostility and could not get any clarity on this critical issue. According to Naledi Shange from Times Live, Woolworths released a statement on Friday, 16 November, addressing the controversy that befell the retailer thanks to Madhoo’s Facebook post that went viral.

In the statement, Woolworths stated that

“These cameras are there to check that the correct service procedures are being followed.

“They are fixed cameras that can’t rotate and are positioned to only view the point of entry into the fitting rooms. There is no visibility into the cubicles or even the passage between the cubicles,”

This may be understandable since Woolworths is renowned for championing service excellence. However, the presence of a security camera in a fitting room surely does not bring any kind of calm to a customer who may feel like he or she is being watched.