Kraal arrests lead to drop in crime

The Kraal in Bo-Kaap has been a headache for police. Picture: David Ritchie

According to the Cape Town Central police, theft out of motor vehicles and muggings have significantly decreased following
the arrest of five people living at the informal settlement in Bo-Kaap known as the Kraal.

Cape Town Central police spokesperson Captain Ezra October, said they’ve noticed that the criminals come to the city centre to mug people and break into cars and then move up to the Kraal and Quarry to hide there.

The sector manager for the area, Constable Louis Texeira, said following a spike in robberies, especially during the times that tourists are in the city and in Bo-Kaap, he started speaking to the Bo-Kaap residents and viewed some of the camera footage in the area.

“I recognised one of the suspects, and he lived at the Kraal, so I went to do a patrol and he walked into me. I brought him to the police station and we profiled him, which linked him to an armed robbery in Buitengracht Street.”

Constable Texeira said last week, they were called out to Longmarket Street after a tourist was robbed at knifepoint.

“After speaking to people in the area and looking at video footage, the man identified in the robbery was recognised as a repeat offender, who is also from the Kraal. I went from home to arrest him.”

Three men and a woman were arrested, he said, in connection with another incident during which a car had been broken into in the Chiappini Street area. It turned out they have also been living at the Kraal.

“Since the arrest of these five people, we’ve seen crime significantly drop in the area, so it is clear that these people are contributing to crime.”

He said the Kraal had been a headache for police, with drug usage and illegal immigrants living in six structures on the land. He added that it was easy for criminals to hide out there, as they could escape up into the mountain or hide in the long grass.

“We have weekly joint operations at the Kraal, and I visit the space every day to show police presence,” said Constable Texeira.

There has been a spike in robberies, muggings and business break-ins in the east city area, around Constitution Street, with criminals targeting schoolchildren in the morning.

Captain October said the police had since been doing early morning patrols in the area.

“Sometimes it’s one man, sometimes it’s two, according to the victims, and they use knives to threaten people and take their belongings.”

He said part of the problem were the open fields in the area around Keizersgracht and Constitution Street, which make it easier for criminals to escape or to hide.

During the early hours of Wednesday September 19, two men were caught breaking into the Western Cape Cultural Affairs and Sport building, on the corner of Primrose and Caledon streets.

On Friday, September 21, police officers caught a man who had allegedly stolen a cellphone and cash from a sedan taxi driver.

Sergeant Glen Machelm told the CapeTowner that the man, 24, allegedly took a taxi cab and asked the driver to drop him off in Constitution Street. “He asked the cab driver if he could use his cellphone and acted like he called his friend to bring him R100 to pay the cab driver.

“The driver then gave him R30 as change while they waited for his payment as the ride cost R70.”

Sergeant Machelm said when the cab driver asked for his cellphone, the man threatened him with pepper spray and ran in the direction of Keizersgracht.

“The man flagged us down and we searched for the suspect. While patrolling the area, we caught him and upon searching him, we found the cab driver’s cellphone and R30 and the pepper spray.”

He said there had been numerous cases reported to Cape Town Central police with the same modus operandi. “The suspect is known to us – he has been arrested before for numerous offences, including assault,” he said.

Questions to the City of Cape Town about the state and the future of the Kraal went unanswered at the time of going to print.