Newly appointed commander of Cape Town Central police station’s detective branch, Colonel Sagadevan Reddy, is aiming to increase their conviction rate.
He is appealing to the community to work with the police to get as much information as possible.
Colonel Reddy was appointed at the peak of the festive season, but said it was “nothing different to the norm”.
“I come from Lentegeur police station, where I served as a branch commander. There we dealt with serious and violent crimes, so I’m used the hard work.”
And despite Colonel Reddy’s four-year stint in Lentegeur, he is familiar with the city centre, having worked at Cape Town Central police station in the 1990s, and then at the provincial inspectorate in the city.
“In the 1990s I was in charge of the theft and housebreaking unit at the City Central police station. Our unit had a close relationship with the community. We had many successes.
“We also conducted many awareness campaigns, and back then we also had the ‘tekkie squad’, now the crime prevention unit.”
However, he said crime has changed over the years.
“Those days crime was static – we had it under control, and we had strategies to keep it under control. We weren’t in a crisis.”
He said the main crimes that Central police were battling with were theft out of motor vehicles and robberies.
City Central police station spokesperson, Captain Ezra October, said from the beginning of the year up till now, the crime prevention unit had made one arrest for theft out of motor vehicle, and arrested four people for possession of car breaking implements.
“It is difficult to catch people who broke into a car as the owners only discovers that their items are missing when they return to the car. What police were doing was stopping and searching suspects to check if they have car breaking implements, but now we find that the suspects are hiding the tools, making it difficult for us. We appeal to the community to be more vigilant as criminals become more clever.”
Colonel Reddy said one of the challenges he faced when he was first appointed was creating stability. “There was no branch commander, only acting commanders, so there wasn’t stability. Now, the members are aware of their duties, and I am here to guide and support them.”
Colonel Reddy heads a group of about 80 detectives. Another challenge was that people who commit crime in the CBD very often live in other areas, so most of the work is done outside the CBD.
“We are increasingly working on tracing operations to trace suspects and stolen items.”
He urged community members to share information with the police. “My main aim is to get a good conviction in court, and we can’t do that if people don’t provide our detectives with as much information that they need to keep the suspects behind bars.”
He also appealed to the community to join their neighbourhood watches, street committees, and work with their sector managers.
“We cannot fight crime in isolation.
“I want to encourage people to take responsibility for their environment, and I am urging them not to buy stolen goods. They are creating a market for crime – it is a criminal offense.”
He said Strand Street was one of the areas where theft out of motor vehicle and robberies have become problematic. “Cyclops is part of our strategy to address theft out of motor vehicles in that area.”
The City’s safety director, Richard Bosman, said there are currently six cameras installed in this area of which only the one, at the Castle of Good Hope, is not operating due to ongoing renovations. He said footage can only be obtained by a detective employed by the South African Police Service, and victims of crime must open a case with SAPS and the detective assigned to the case will then contact Cyclops to view the footage if any exist.
Captain October said cellphone robberies is a big concern for the police. “We need people to keep the serial numbers of electronic items safe, and to report the robbery or theft immediately, and bring all the references they can as there are many fraudulent cases. People lose phones then say they were robbed, or they report it at other police stations then come to us as well for insurance purposes.”
Colonel Reddy added that they will come down hard on people that try to open fraudulent cases. “We will arrest you if you. We will also start verifying crime scenes of theft out of motor vehicle cases.
“We want to appeal to people to please open a case immediately after your car was broken into. Don’t get it fixed first. What people don’t know is the car is an exhibit. We need to lift fingerprints and evidence from the vehicle.”
Captain October said they will speak to hotels and B&Bs about informing tourists who drive rental cars to please report cases.
“We also want to ask people to refrain from late reports, or reporting for insurance purposes weeks after your phone was stolen. This creates doubt.”
While the Cape Town community-police forum did not answer detailed questions from the Capetowner, they said that the appointment of Colonel Reddy is exciting news and should reap great benefits.