Opinions Sat, 19 Oct 2013

Emelia Brobbey, the Innocent Sufferer

In July 2013, I was approached by a concerned Ghanaian, imploring me to ascertain the veracity or falsity of the shoplifting allegation against the actress, Ms Emelia Brobbey. In response to the individual’s request, a phone call was made to Pearsons Department Store in Enfield where the alleged offence occurred, to arrange to have a face-to-face interaction with the manager, as part of my investigation into the allegation. However, I was advised to put all the questions I wanted to ask in writing, and assured of an immediate response.

On the 8th of August 2013, I wrote to the store via email as recommended; this was after I had visited the shop in person to familiarize myself with the location of the jewelleries (including bracelets). A week after emailing the letter, a phone call was made to the store to establish if the email had been received. The person I spoke with acknowledged receipt of the email, but was quick to state that the individual who deals with such emails (i.e. emails on shoplifting allegations) was on a brief leave, and that a response would be given as soon as that person was back to work.

When after more than a month, a response was still yet to be received, I did write to them again entreating them to be kind enough to respond to my email. It is almost two and half months now since the first email was sent, and the authorities of the department store, contrary to their promise, have still not responded to the email. I am compelled to believe that the store’s management feels they cannot provide honest responses to my questions without tarnishing the reputation of the store.

I now have no other option but to present groups and individuals interested in the case with my findings after critically analysing the information that I have been able to gather from various reliable sources. My analysis and findings would be presented in my subsequent article. But before that, it is considered expedient to kick-start the commentary with the letter emailed to Pearsons Department Store, which I believe would interest readers. Below is the letter:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am an investigative journalist, investigating a shoplifting allegation against a Ghanaian actress who apparently came to shop in Pearsons Department Store, Enfield, in the latter part of June 2013.

The shoplifting allegation against the actress, Ms Emelia Brobbey, has become a very hot subject and generated seemingly unending debates, particularly in the Ghanaian and Nigerian media due to the reputable position she occupies in the Ghana showbiz industry. After listening to her version of the incident, I thought it would be unfair, inappropriate, and in fact, a breach of a vital journalistic principle to make judgements and conclusions without getting in touch with you for confirmation and some clarifications.

It is understood the customer in question bought a couple of items and paid for all except one. When she got to the alarm gate on her way out, the alarm went off (indicating that an item had perhaps not been untagged or paid for). When an unpaid-for bracelet costing no more than £10 was found in her buggy, she maintained her innocence, apologetically explaining that she wasn’t aware the item was in the pram. However, she thought it wise to pour oil on troubled waters by paying for the item. She then left the shop after she had been compelled not only to divulge her immigration status in the UK but also to provide the shop with her address and other information. The cops, we learn, were never called to the scene of the incident.

One would have thought that the customer’s decision to pay for the item should have closed the ‘case’, if there ever was any. But it is learnt, that a couple of days after the incident, the cops strangely went to her address apparently to establish or confirm her identity and immigration status. Your decision to compel her to provide an address, and of course the cops’ presence at her residence a couple days after the occurrence, leave many analysts with more questions than answers.

It would thus be very much appreciated if management would be kind enough to respond to the following questions which seek to resolve certain puzzles surrounding the case, and to clarify certain important things.

1. Under the UK Theft Act 1968, theft which includes shoplifting is explained as dishonestly appropriating “property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.” Could you say in all honesty and with all certainty, or without an iota of doubt that the customer in question deliberately intended to permanently deprive the shop owners of their property?

2. If there is a CCTV footage that substantiates or discredits the allegation, would you please be kind enough to provide me with a copy of that footage?

3. If you strongly believed that the customer consciously stole the item and you felt the need to involve the police, then why were the cops not called to the scene while the alleged culprit was still in your ‘custody’?

4. Inversely, if you did believe Ms Brobbey’s explanation that what happened was an honest mistake, and did not consider it necessary to involve the cops or call them to the scene, then why did you pass her address and other information on to the police after she had left the store?

5. Is it a normal practice to induce an alleged shoplifter to provide their address even after they had apologetically stated that it was an honest mistake and paid for the item?

6. The customer in question quotes one of your staff (possibly a security guard) as saying: “You Africans come here illegally and all you do is stealing from shops”. What is your response to this allegation?

I believe you appreciate the fact that this investigation is being conducted because the reputation and integrity of a famous and possibly respectable individual is at stake; and I trust you would do the best you can to help us get to the bottom of this whole saga. I will be happy to meet up with you at your own convenience if a face-to-face interaction is preferred.

I look forward to your reply.

Kind regards

Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu-Ansah (Accreditation details provided)

Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu-Ansah (Black Power) is an investigative journalist, educator, and a researcher. He may be contacted via email: andypower2002@yahoo.it
Columnist: Owusu-Ansah, Emmanuel Sarpong