Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – Indonesian internet users reacted with rage to a video showing a female employee of retail company Alfamart forced to apologize to a woman who was previously caught red-handed stealing chocolate candies at one of the company's shops.
The alleged shoplifter was angry after a video of the incident went viral on social media platforms and she hired a lawyer to get a public apology from the employee.
On the undated video, the employee can be seen reading uncomfortably an apology for recording and posting a video of the shoplifting under the watch of the suspected thief identified as Mariana and a man who claims to be her attorney.
"I am an Alfamart employee and allow me to clarify videos that have been circulating on social media because there was a misunderstanding between both of us that is damaging to Ibu [Madame] Mariana," the employee said as she was reading the statement apparently prepared by the lawyer.
"I apologize to Ibu Mariana for spreading the video." She was visibly unconsenting when reading the statement with Mariana and the lawyer standing beside her.
The employee reportedly agreed to make an apology after the lawyer threatened her with the draconian Electronic Information and Transaction Law for spreading false information.
In the video, the lawyer also asked who she is, to which the employee replied: "Amelia."
The video was recorded inside an Alfamart shop in Cisauk, South Tangerang, in the province of Banten, where the shoplifting incident occurred on Saturday.
Mariana was angered by an earlier video in which she attempted to flee the scene but an Alfamart employee prevented her from closing the driver's door of her car and both were involved in an argument over unpaid goods.
"Let me check those items. Why do you become dishonest to us?" a woman can be heard yelling at Mariana. Mariana ultimately agreed to return to the shop but it remains unclear if she finally paid for those items.
People went to the internet to express outrage and the hashtags #Alfamart and #Ngutil (shoplifting) soon become trending.
"This is too much, the person who was caught shoplifting is capable of putting pressure on the Alfamart employee just because she can afford a lawyer," senior journalist Zulfikar Akbar tweeted. "She didn't apologize. Instead, the female Alfamart employee is forced to do so."
Another user wrote: "She could pay a lawyer millions [of rupiah] but couldn't pay less than Rp 100,000 for chocolate bars at Alfamart."
Sumber Alfaria Trijaya, the parent company that owns Alfamart, reacted angrily to the forced apology video.
"The management of Alfamart fully supports our employee who according to the preliminary investigation has carried out her duty in accordance with the existing procedures. We are against any attempt to intimidate our employee for doing her job properly," Solihin, the company's corporate affairs director, said in a video statement posted on the company's Twitter account.
He said the company has appointed famous lawyer Hotman Paris Hutapea to represent the employee to make counter legal measures.
Earlier in the day, Hotman tweeted that he has learned about the whole incident and is willing to provide pro bono litigation services for the Alfamart employee.
The South Tangerang Police confirmed that there was a theft complaint lodged by Alfamart on Monday. The case could grow bigger than petty theft because Alfamart also plans to sue Mariana for defamation.