The City of Cape Town, the City Central Improvement District (CCID) and Cape Town Central police have collaborated in an attempt to clean up the parade.
As part of the plan, the City has deployed 18 officers and placed a marked caravan in the centre of the parade, which stays open 24/7 and serves as a contact point for the public.
The Grand Parade has for years been fingered as a problematic area plagued by drug dealing.
The plan was put in place after more complaints about the area were received, which included pick-pocketing, robbery, illegal and roaming traders, and loitering.
The security plan also came after the City Hall was upgraded, and plans to revitalise the entire precinct included the parade (“No grand plan for parade”, Capetowner, July 13).
According to police, for the month of August alone, they arrested 75 people on the Grand Parade for various crimes, while Law Enforcement made 19 arrests.
However, traders who spoke to the CapeTowner say all the resources in the world won’t help unless police officers stop taking bribes from the drug dealers.
They have also raised concerns about alleged dealers and criminals beating up the CCID guards.
Natasha Naicker, a trader and site manager at the parade, said since the Law Enforcement officers were deployed, the situation has improved, but very little. She said the officers work in the day, but when they leave, the same thing happens. “People still get pick-pocketed, and there is still brazen drug dealing. We can’t make business here, and what makes it worse is that the police are taking bribes from the drug dealers. When there are operations, all of a sudden there are no drugs. The information must be coming from somewhere. And why are police friendly with the dealers?
“It is particularly bad at the ticket box and at the toilet. The Law Enforcement officers come and they gather at the caravan and seldom walk through the stalls to see all of this.”
Another trader, Vincent Baatjies, said while he welcomes the plan to try to curb the crime around them, more could be done.
“These things happen early in the morning when they know there is no visibility. The police should concentrate on Wednesdays and Saturdays when the parade is busiest – that’s when the robberies and pick-pocketing happens.
“The Law Enforcement officers don’t spread themselves around either. When a fight breaks out or a guard is beaten up, you look around and there are no officers. The CCID guards try their best, but their lives are at risk on the parade.” Nonkosi Mpambani said she has been trading on the parade for 18 years, but nothing is getting better.
“What I have been seeing everyday is getting worse – the drug dealing, the street children and the theft. Now, the police are also taking money from the dealers. I reported the incident to the City once, and I told them to look at the camera footage, but they told me it’s not working, so what is the point of the cameras?” She said the Law Enforcement officers are not around to help people because they don’t split up when they patrol.
“The CCID guards have been working but it looks like no one is backing them up. They can’t arrest anyone. Just the other day a security guard was beaten up, and it happened several times. We have no one to run to.”
Another trader, who did not want to be named for fear of her safety, said the police are the problem. “They are taking money from the dealers. The police need to change up the people who patrol here. They say we need to take a picture of this or give evidence but we are scared.
“The corruption here is despicable. The police don’t work because they need the money to buy a cooldrink. The Law Enforcement and the CCID are working but the police are corrupt. Nothing will change if this is not sorted out. I advised the police to bring sniffer dogs so that they can find the drugs but it didn’t materialise. We have a huge problem here on the parade, and I don’t think that this plan will help us.”
Cape Town Central police station spokesperson, Captain Ezra October, said the police have had several meetings with the traders’ association, and they have been collaborating and sharing information.
However, he said it is difficult for them to investigate allegations of corruption if nobody comes forward with an official statement.
“I have asked the traders to give us statements to put on record that this is happening and they agreed, but to date we haven’t received any.”
He said if anyone has complaints regarding corruption, they can approach the police and even give a statement anonymously. “We want to deal with it, we will not shy away from the cases of corruption. But we need to place it on record so that Ipid ( Independent Police Investigative Directorate) or the correct unit can deal with it. We take corruption very seriously and there is a zero tolerance approach to it at the station. We have even warned the officers about it when we heard the concerns from the traders.”
He said the officers who are undercover work with commanders and top rank police officers, and even patrol on weekends and nights to catch suspected dealers and criminals.
“We have received praises from others about our work on the parade, so we need people who see this to point them out and give us statements.”
He said there are daily operations on the Grand Parade with the City and the CCID.
They are also building a relationship with the parole office as police have found that parolees are seeking refuge in the city because there is currently gang warfare on the Cape Flats.
“We can only do as much as the police can, so we need the partners. We know there are challenges, but the police also have challenges. The drug trade is problematic for us, we have school children coming through there that are exposed to this, and they can easily be targeted to buy or sell drugs. We need to make sure our school children and our commuters are protected.”
He said they are in talks with the City to extend the operating hours of the Law Enforcement officers.
Richard Bosman, the City of Cape Town’s executive director for safety and security, said the hours will be extended once all logistical issues have been dealt with. “The officers will be deployed on two shifts – from 6am to 2.30pm, and then 11.30am until 8pm. Each shift will have nine officers with one inspector on duty. The CCID will be covering the night shift, and these times will change during the festive season.”
Asked about concerns that Law Enforcement is not patrolling adequately, the Metro police chief, Wayne le Roux, said: “The South African Police Service remains the lead agency in fighting crime.The City’s officers are doing a sterling job and their record speaks for itself.”
The CCID security manager, Muneeb Hendricks said while the Grand Parade is not part of the CCID’s geographical area, they assist by sponsoring four guards to support SAPS and Law Enforcement.
However, he said the guards have been threatened on occasions and there have been assaults.
“One must understand that there will often be resistance to any law enforcement action that is taken, and this is particularly the case in a space like the Grand Parade, where alcohol and drug abuse now occurs on a daily basis, exacerbating the situation quite severely.
“We have had incidents which have even resulted in members of our team seeking medical attention after being assaulted, but now, with the City’s Law Enforcement officers – the primary agency on the Grand Parade – on site to back up our teams, we will work side by side with them to restore law and order in that space.”