A catering contractor allegedly grabbed or sexually touched two women in the Gungahlin Marketplace, including one with her 16-month-old baby.
Bonner man Njabulo Ndlovu was charged over the offences and has been refused bail, as the ACT court ruled that if the facts of the matter were correct, then it appeared his alleged behaviour was escalating.
Court documents show in early April, Mr Ndlovu entered a store in the Marketplace and asked a staff member if he could look at a watch inside a display cabinet.
As she began to open the cabinet, the 31-year-old man allegedly touched her on her lower back and left arm, leaving her feeling very uncomfortable.
He looked at the watch before handing it back. When she returned it to the cabinet, he walked behind her and allegedly rubbed his hand across her buttocks.
Police said the woman “froze, was shocked, felt uncomfortable and didn’t know what to say”.
Her co-worker saw the incident and told Mr Ndlovu to leave the store, to which he allegedly replied that “he was sorry, it was an accident and his hand slipped”, police said.
Later in April, a different woman took her 16-month-old son when she went shopping in the Marketplace’s Woolworths.
While she was being served at the express checkout, Mr Ndlovu allegedly walked behind her and whispered in her ear words to the effect of “hey baby” or “I like to watch”.
At the same time, he allegedly grabbed her on the buttocks and genital area before letting go and quickly leaving the store.
Mr Ndlovu is also accused of assaulting a man in a BWS liquor store in Gungahlin Marketplace earlier in the year.
After he entered the store on the afternoon of 26 February, he and his alleged victim argued before he was told he would be refused service and was asked to leave.
Mr Ndlovu is accused of thrusting his shoulder into his alleged victim and striking him in the chest, in what police said was similar to a shoulder charge.
He continued to argue with his alleged victim while holding up a closed fist until he eventually left the store.
While the man was knocked backwards and felt pain from the alleged impact, he did not sustain any long-term injuries, but it did leave him “shaking and concerned” that Mr Ndlovu would return.
Mr Ndlovu did not enter pleas when he applied for bail in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday (19 April) after being charged with two counts of assault and one count of an act of indecency without consent.
His Legal Aid lawyer said he had a diagnosis of schizophrenia and that his alcohol use had been “slightly problematic”.
Prosecutor Juanita Zankin argued the nature of Mr Ndlovu’s alleged offending was “so random” – he did not know any of his alleged victims – it would be difficult to introduce adequate bail conditions.
“It could really take place anywhere in theory, and against anyone,” she said.
She said closed-circuit television of the incidents meant the prosecution had a strong case.
Magistrate James Stewart said if the facts of the case were correct, then it appeared Mr Ndlovu’s alleged behaviour was escalating.
He described the allegations as “brazen acts of indecency against members of the public” and refused bail, citing the high possibility of committing more alleged offences”.
Mr Ndlovu was remanded in custody and will next appear before the courts on 18 May.