Festive season planning

Brigadier Hansia Hansraj

Security authorities operating in Sector 1, Sector 4 and Sector 6 met at a public imbizo in Wale Street last week to give feedback on the year spanning from April up to now, and to plan for the busy season ahead.

Sector 1 comprises the city centre, Sector 4 the Foreshore and the entrance of the V&A Waterfront and Sector 6 the station deck, the Grand Parade and Hertzog Boulevard.

The meeting was chaired by the City Central Improvement District (CCID) security manager, Muneeb Hendricks.

Keynote speaker, Brigadier Hansia Hansraj, said Cape Town Central police station remains the top contributor to crime statistics in the province.

However, there are many reason for this, she said.

“We are the biggest station – we have a big business hub and we have one of the biggest tourism hubs. We can’t compare Cape Town Central to other stations in the province. We are still the number one contributor to crime nationally, and we won’t be satisfied until we are out of that first place.”

When the crime statistics were released in September, she said there were many questions as to why Cape Town Central took the top spot in two categories – the most reported theft out of motor vehicles and property-related crimes.

“The two areas that stood out the most were theft out of motor vehicle and theft of motor vehicle. While this remains a constant challenge for us, we prioritise robberies because there is violence involved.”

Brigadier Hansraj said the recent “senseless” killing of Irishman John Curran in his Buitengracht Street flat, shows that security role-players need to guide tourists visiting the city centre (“Murder mystery in the city, CapeTowner, November 15). She said this festive season, the police will focus on creating awareness.

“We will have a tourism indaba, where we will meet with representatives of the hospitality and security role-players to discuss how we can prevent crime. We need hoteliers and the industry to take responsibility for their clients and make people aware of the crime in the area.

“From our side, we will do whatever we can to ensure there is high visibility in our hot spot areas, one of which is the city centre, as this is where all the big events are happening.”

She said this festive season will be challenging, as Cape Town Central police lost some of its staff to the newly established anti-gang unit.

“Resources from stations all over the province were roped in for the anti-gang unit. But we are capable and we will try our best.”

Another concern she had was the number of false cases being opened up at Cape Town Central police station.

“Many people want to open cases just for insurance purposes, but we need to investigate these cases. We have had instances where, when people hear there is a camera in the area that they have reported a crime, they no longer want to follow through with the case. We have arrested people for perjury, and we will continue to do so.”

She urged members of the public not to wash their cars or move and clean certain things in their homes if they were victims of crime, so that the police have a better chance of lifting fingerprints to apprehend suspects.

The head of visible policing, Colonel André Coetzee, said cellphones are a headache for police, as this is the item that is reported stolen the most. He urged the public to be vigilant as the festive season approaches. “We need to put a better focus on partnership policing. We need to keep our eyes and ears open and we need the public to continue to provide us with information.”

He said while the police need to focus on protecting the communities in their precinct, they need to focus their attention on the festive season.

“If we can walk out in January with no murders, or no serious crime, we have already succeeded.”

During a feedback session, police reported that robberies and theft out of motor vehicle was still a major concern.

They also warned that ATM fraud is still a big concern, where tourists are mostly targeted.

They are told that they need a special permit to walk on some streets, and that they need to use an ATM to draw the money for the permit, and their PINs are then checked when they punch it in to the machine.

Mr Hendricks said the CCID has partnered with the Chrysalis Academy, and some of the students had become ambassadors, standing at ATMs to inform tourists of the scams, and handing out pamphlets with safety tips on them.

Captain Gavin Haupt gave a breakdown of the big events coming up in the city that pose the biggest challenge for police:

The switching on of the festive lights on Sunday December 2.

The Twilight Run on Tuesday December 4. Last year the run attracted about 15 000 people.

The Cape Town Sevens Rugby. Captain Haupt said people tend to park in the isolated areas of the city and catch a taxi or bus to the event, and often forget where they park so they walk around with their phones. He said the spaces in which people park also needs to be patrolled, as well as Long Street, which becomes a party zone after the event.

The Summer Market in the Company’s Garden from Friday December 21. He said the hours are extended this year, and the police need to secure the garden.

The Christmas bands on Monday December 24.

New Year’s in the city, as well as Tweede Nuwe Jaar on Wednesday January 2. He said there are at least 800 events in the city centre in the year, most of which happens over the festive season, and having to police events puts strain on resources. The festive season plan, which is drawn up every year before the big days, is in the process of being compiled, he added.

Mr Hendricks said there are a number of smaller events taking place as well, and that this festive season will be challenging. “It’s going to be madness – there are trying times ahead of us,” he said.