Working towards a safer city centre


AFTER BEING SUBJECTED to an attempted mugging in Hout Street in Cape Town’s city centre a few weeks ago, I was offered a tour round the Cape Town Partnership’s security programme. It turned out to be an inspiring and enlightening experience, and left me convinced that as much as possible is being done by this visionary organisation to ensure safety in the city.

With forty guards patrolling the CBD at any given time, Mo Hendricks, the Central City Improvement District’s passionate security chief, guarantees a response time of two minutes to anyone who phones the CCID’s security hotline. A “walking bus” initiative has been created to ensure a safe passage for commuters walking from work to public transport termini. The city’s homeless people are monitored, as are incidences of crime, so that the CCID’s crime prevention strategy can continually be developed.

The CCID works with a number of NGOs that encourage the rehabilitation of the homeless. It also has an excellent relationship with the SAPS. At Roeland Street Police Station, for example, the CCID provides additional manpower to help alleviate the police’s chronic resource shortages.

The programme has become so successful that it is now being used as a model for replication in other South African CBDs.

Unfortunately, Intersite, the parastatal that owns Cape Town station, refuses to join the Cape Town Partnership or allow CCID officers to patrol the property. It remains indifferent and unconcerned about the rampant crime and intimidation of commuters in and around the property, a state of affairs which is a consequence of incoherent, lax and untrained station security.

While safety on the station deck has improved significantly, the station’s ground floor entrances, concourse and outdoor market remain dangerous. I have experienced five criminal incidences (including actual physical harassment, threats of intimidation, attempted mugging and pickpocketing) on the property in as many months.

The cesspool that is Cape Town’s railway station gives our city centre a bad name. I am convinced that if the CCID was given the security mandate for the property, crime in that area would be significantly reduced and traumatised commuters may even be wooed back into using public transport.

For more information about the the Cape Town Partnership, visit: www.capetownpartnership.co.za/

***

Recently I was sitting outside at café on Greenmarket Square daydreaming with my wallet (incredibly stupidly) lying on the table. A streetkid was winding his way through the tables towards me. All of a sudden a man in blue overalls who had seen this started yelling at him to go away.

This altruistic outburst from a concerned stranger left me really heartened. It goes to show that we can all contribute the fight against crime, no matter how small the incident or deed. Sending out a strong message to criminals may not eradicate the scourge of crime but it will certainly make a difference.

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