Robbery and theft are a big challenge for Cape Town Central police when it comes to the city centre’s entertainment and nightlife sector.
At a recent liquor forum meeting, held at the City Hall on Thursday September 29, police urged business owners to work together with security authorities to bring the numbers down.
Police reported that property crimes including robbery, theft out of motor vehicles and theft inside and outside restaurants and other establishments were a problem.
Hotspot areas included Bree, Long and Kloof streets – all which have liquor premises in abundance, although it was reported that crime has decreased in Long Street.
No figures were available because of the moratorium on crime statistics.
Cape Town Central station commander Brigadier Marius Stander said while safety in the city was the mandate of the police, business owners played a big role in keeping patrons safe. “For example, if you have an intoxicated client, don’t serve them more liquor because they are more vulnerable to become a victim of crime.”
He said reports of cellphones being stolen was one of the main complaints received by police inside and outside establishments, and encouraged business owners to educate their patrons about safety.
“When we talk about liquor, we should be on one page because it creates a livelihood for many in the CBD.
“We are here to share challenges because ultimately, there are so many people who come to enjoy themselves but with that, your clients become victims of crime.”
He said sexual offences were also a concern for the police, and in most cases, people meet inside bars and clubs, and an assault takes place later. “While we know there is no controlling this, we need you to know we are concerned.”
The designated liquor officer for Cape Town Central police, Captain Tobias du Plessis, urged business owners to have all their paperwork in order when they are inspected.
“By working together we can get rid of the scourge in our entertainment areas.”
CBD ward councillor, Ian McMahon, said over 30 liquor licence applications were up for comment from the city bowl area. “Please have all your ducks in a row because if you don’t we will not support your application.”
Inspector from the Western Cape Liquor Authority Elvis Stimela, who also attended the meeting, reminded business owners about non-automatic licence renewals.
Up to now, liquor licences were automatically renewed every year, however, starting from the licence renewal cycle in 2023, liquor licence holders who have not been compliant will have to apply to get their licence renewed.
All compliance notices and community complaints about an establishment will be recorded and come July 31, ahead of the liquor licence renewal period, the licence holder will be notified if they do not qualify for an automatic licence renewal, and will have to apply to renew it, for the consideration of the liquor tribunal.
He added that businesses were still not compliant with their trading hours. “One business was fined R60 000 for not adhering to trading hours.
“We will make your life difficult if you don’t do this.”
Brigadier Stander also highlighted the issue of extortion in the city centre, and urged business owners to come forward if they fell victim to extortionists. “We cannot have that in town. There were many stories about extortion in Long Street, but there are none coming to us right now, which is good, but if you have information, please come to us – we will keep it confidential.
“We have zero tolerance for this.”
While there were more representatives from businesses than the last liquor forum meeting in April, Brigadier Stander said he would love to have more business owners at the meetings.
There was a supported request to make liquor forum meetings later in the day, as many licence holders would like to attend, but work until the early hours of the morning and need to rest before starting the next working day.