Intern Felix Karlsson was driving down 5th Avenue on Sunday afternoon when he witnessed two unnamed security guards running after a man on the road outside Sandton City.
The man was repeatedly punched and kicked when he was eventually caught, and one of the attackers allegedly placed his boot on the victim's neck while he was sprawled on the street.
"It was brutal. The man was lying motionless on the floor and the security guard was just hitting him," he said.
But as Karlsson was taking photos, one of the security guards approached him. He was asked to delete the photos. When he refused, he was punched.
"He was asking me why I was taking photos as the man they were assaulting had apparently stolen something. I kept on saying I was with the press and I had a right to take photos."
The duo dragged Karlsson through the parking lot into a cell in a backroom of the mall with the alleged thief.
"When I refused to delete the pictures, they slapped me around."
Karlsson eventually relented and deleted some of the images.
He was released after passer-by Farhat Thokan appealed to the security personnel to let him go.
"I made it very clear that freedom of the press should be respected. You can't just have security guards acting like cowboys – they were in the wrong," Thokan said.
The security guards refused to give their names, but were dressed in security guard attire consistent with the security personnel working at Sandton City shopping centre.
"I am really surprised the guys didn't know what they were doing was wrong," Karlsson said. "The guard who seemed to be in charge was stunned when Thokan told him what he was doing was against the law. That was when they released me."
Sandton City management requested to see a photo of the people involved so it could verify the guards were security for the mall before commenting. A photo Karlsson managed to salvage was sent and a reply was not received by the time this article was published.
Photos by Felix Karlsson