Chaos in CBD after switch-on

Chaos erupted after the festive lights switch-on event on Sunday December 4, which saw two people killed, underage and public drinking on the streets of the CBD and a number of arrests by security authorities operating in the area.

Most of the issues seem to be the result of heavy drinking at the event.

According to reports 40 people were also admitted to New Somerset Hospital in Green Point for injuries during the night and the early hours of Monday morning.

According to a City of Cape Town media release, law enforcement officers confiscated 1 679 bottles and cans of alcohol during the festive event. They also made four arrests, one for assault of a peace officer and three for being drunk in public, the statement said.

In terms of the City’s by-laws, it is illegal to consume alcohol in public.

Anyone found contravening the by-laws has their alcohol confiscated and receives a R500 fine. They are able to reclaim their impounded alcohol, at a cost, once the fine has been paid.

Cape Town Central police spokesman, Captain Ezra October, said two people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol; 11 were arrested for possession of dagga, five for possession of drugs, three for riotous behaviour, four for theft and six for robbery.

Captain October stressed that the event itself went well but police struggled to deal with the aftermath of the festival.

“Our main concern was the number of young people being transported in taxis and the underage drinking that took place. There were people drinking on the streets and in parking lots after the festival.”

He added they had also arrested someone in connection with a murder that took place at 4am on Monday morning but that no arrests had been made for the other murder.

“We were completely outnumbered by the people that were in town. We needed more support from law enforcement,” he said.

However, the real problems started once the event came to an end at 10pm. According to the manager of the Central City Improvement District (CCID), Muneeb Hendricks, crowds of youngsters came to party in the CBD after the event was over. “The entire event was well-run and mostly attended by families. Once the event ended and the families had left the CBD, crowds of youngsters ferried in by taxis started to party in the CBD. Many confrontations occurred between rival groups, fuelled by alcohol, and many arguments erupted in fights. CCID personnel acted within their normal mandate in terms of ensuring public safety to de-escalate situations and restore calm.”

Peter Smith, who works at a storage facility in the CBD, said there a number of issues of concern, the main one of which was the underage drinking. “There were taxis carrying youngsters and (they) were packed with boxes of wine. What kind of message is this sending to the tourists that come to the festival? There were also people having sex on the street.”

Yusuf Safudien, of the Bo-Kaap Neighbourhood Watch, added that people had been drinking on the stoeps of Bo-Kaap homes. “We had to call SAPS to get the issues sorted out,” he said.

Mr Safudien said there had also been a burglary in the area, and that police had arrested a suspect.

He commended SAPS for responding to residents’ complaints but added that, in the light of Sunday night’s chaos, the City needed to think re-think hosting the event in the future.

Mr Hendricks said the CCID had assisted law enforcement to deal with the unlawful dispensing of many litres of alcohol and also addressed, as far as possible, urination in public. “Many of the youth that descended on the CBD were underage and brought their own alcohol in with them as the clubs abide by the age restrictions placed on them.Predominantly, our teams dealt with many noise-related issues as a result of cars blaring music all over the CBD.”

Elaborating on the two murders perpetrated during the early hours of Monday morning, Captain October said that at about 1am, police had been called out to an incident during which a 25-year-old man had been stabbed to death in Queen Victoria Street.

“He sustained two wounds to the neck. The motive for murder is unknown. At the crime scene, the deceased had money in his wallet and his cellphone with him.” No arrests have been made.

Later that morning, at 4am, the police attended to a complaint in Strand Street at the railway station entrance where another 25-year-old man had died after being stabbed in the back nine times. “Police arrested a 19-year-old man at the scene and recovered the murder weapon found in his possession. The suspect was detained by the security at the railway station.”

Anyone with information that can assist Cape Town Central police with the murder investigation can contact Detective Warrant Officer Jeremy Steyn cellular number 082 897 4150 or Saps Crime Stop 08600 10111.

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