Fury at escalating drug peddling

Commuters are fed up with the increase in brazen drug peddling at the Golden Arrow Bus terminus.

In a letter to the CapeTowner, Karen Kwalie, who travels to the city daily, said she had noticed a “high increase in broad daylight drug peddling” at the terminus.

“I regularly use the Golden Arrow Bus Service in and out of town and of recent I don’t feel safe to get off at the earmarked bus stop due to the intimidating elements and activity that is taking place at the terminus and the Grand Parade.

“It saddens and sickens me to see how the Metro police and SAPS just walk right past these people without addressing it. Had they not taken a oath to solemnly serve and protect the community?

“As commuters we have to firmly hold onto our items and belongings, avoid eye contact or confrontation with these dealers and often users as they serve and support one another in the midst of people trying to board or even wait for the bus.”

The letter, had also been posted on Facebook, with a number of people commenting about their own experiences of people openly dealing or using drugs at the terminus, and how unsafe it is for commuters.

And while Ms Kwalie had posed questions in her letter about what Golden Arrow Bus Services, the City of Cape Town, the police and the government were doing to address the situation and the safety of commuters, it seems authorities are passing the buck.

Golden Arrow spokeswoman Bronwyn Dyke-Beyer said the company “sincerely empathises” with the concerns raised.

“The Golden Acre terminus – like all other termini across the metropole – is owned and administered by the City of Cape Town.

“We have repeatedly made the City’s transport department aware of our serious concerns relating to safety, security and hygiene at the Golden Acre as well as other termini,” she said. “The issues related to the sale of drugs and other criminal behaviour are extremely worrying, but Golden Arrow can only alert the City and law enforcement to what is happening. We are not in a position to restrict access to the area and there is a large amount of foot traffic and thoroughfare throughout the day.

“Improved lighting and more consistent visible law enforcement in the area are therefore a necessity if there is to be any change.”

She said while the City had provided safe, clean stations for its MyCiTi services, it was Golden Arrow’s hope that the thousands of passengers who travelled with their bus service would also be able to enjoy comparable amenities in future.

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town’s executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman, said the matter should be referred to Golden Arrow Bus Services and the South African Police Service.

“This is a general enforcement concern for all law enforcement agencies, including the SAPS,” he said.

“The concern of alleged drug peddling is noted and will be monitored by the City’s Transport Enforcement Unit during their patrols.

“The unit has made arrests in terms of drug possession as well as for possession of dangerous weapons. We have also received complaints of alleged pick-pocketing of commuters and have staff monitoring the situation on a daily basis.”

When the CapeTowner sent the City’s response to Golden Arrow to gain clarity on who the responsible authority was, Ms Dyke-Beyer responded: “I think our comment aligns with what has been said by the City so there is no need to comment further.”

Suzette Little, the mayoral committee member for area south, responded to Golden Arrow’s statement, saying that the City’s transport and urban development authority is responsible for the general cleaning and upkeep of this space.

“To this end, the City appointed a cleaning contractor as well as a security contractor to assist. All maintenance-related issues are attended to on an ongoing basis.

She said it must, however, be noted that this is a difficult area to manage as this is an open public space that is frequented by thousands of people, including commuters, on a daily basis.”

“The City notes the concerns and will give ongoing attention to them.”

Cape Town Central police spokesman, Captain Ezra October, said they had formed partnerships with all the relevant stakeholders and had also established a good working relationship with the newly appointed City of Cape Town Priority Facilities Manager, Tyrone Africa.

Mr Africa, he said, had set up meetings with security experts, Grand Parade Informal Traders’ Associations, private security, business and the City of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement and social crime prevention teams to address concerns of drug peddling and usage, muggings around the bus terminus, Golden Acre south entrance.

Captain October said in the past three months, the City had employed 12 law enforcement officers and 10 cleansing staff on the Expanded Public Works Programme to assist with policing the Grand Parade and bus stop area.

“Cape Town Central police conducts daily integrated crime prevention operations and suspects are arrested for various crimes such as possession of drugs and muggings.

“Every Thursday night since last month, clean-up operations were conducted and we’ve noticed a reduction in our crime.The City has installed eight new CCTV cameras that will assist us to make more arrests.”

He added that law enforcement would also place a satellite station on the Grand Parade, and all stakeholders are required to attend monthly meetings to iron out concerns regarding safety and security. “More integrated operations are planned for the Grand Parade and bus terminus area.”

To share your experiences of the Golden Acre bus terminus and the Grand Parade, email tamlynne.thompson@inl.co.za