Western Cape chalets under threat from arson, vandalism, break-ins and theft, Newsline

Cape Town – Arson, vandalism, break-ins and theft are among the threats to cultural facilities managed by the Western Cape Cultural Commission, an official at the provincial department of cultural affairs and sport has revealed.

Director of art, culture and language services Jane Moleleki told the legislature’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) that while the facilities were located in “quiet, tranquil areas”, several criminal attacks had taken place at them over the past few years due to inadequate security infrastructure.

The briefing to Scopa, requested almost a year ago, was to inform the legislators of mechanisms that had been put in place to mitigate the risk of crime at the facilities.

Committee member Nomi Nkondlo asked: “What are the biggest risks to the facilities, and what plans do you have to mitigate (them), over and above the safety measures?”

Moleleki said: “The greatest risks we face at the facilities are vandalism and break-ins. If you look at the mitigating measures we have put in place such as the lighting, the fencing, the alarms, the beams etc and you will realise that those are all to attend to the risks we face.

“At our Melkbos facilities, the Melkbosstrand Oppiesee and the adjacent Melkbos Cultural Centre, there is the challenge of abalone poaching.

“We have experienced the theft of assets during break-ins and the removal of copper pipe by vandals. In 2018, we had an arson attack at Okkie Jooste (Cultural Centre) in Stellenbosch. This was related to service delivery protests in Jonkershoek.

“These challenges necessitate the change in approach for safety at the facilities. Safety aspects are considered in broad terms.”

In answer to a question from committee member Mathlodi Maseko about the dip in revenue generated by the commission’s facilities in the 2018/19 financial year, chief director of cultural affairs Guy Redman said: “The difference in the numbers coincide with the years when one of the busiest and largest facilities, Okkie Jooste, was out of commission because of the arson attacks.

“That affected the amount of revenue that we had expected to make.”

Cape Argus