Cape Town – Officials say they have seen a spike in crime, in Cape Town’s CBD, as the lockdown restrictions have eased to level 1.
Muneeb “Mo” Hendricks, Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) manager of safety and security, said: “As the lockdown levels have changed from level 5 to level 1, the CCID has seen a slight increase in the number of petty crimes committed in the Cape Town CBD. We did anticipate that this would happen, as there are now more people working in the central city than during level 5, as well as more people coming into town to enjoy what the CBD has to offer, especially over weekends. It therefore stands to reason that there will be a marginal increase in petty crime.”
Party-goers in particular are a major concern in the CBD. Under level 1 the regulations prohibit nightclubs from operating but taverns and bars are allowed to operate until midnight. During level 5 of the lockdown crime statistics showed major decreases compared with the same period last year. According to the first quarter statistics released last month, there was a 37.4% fall in contact crimes, a 29.4% decline in contact-related crimes such as arson and malicious damage to property.
“The CCID also predicted which petty crimes would occur and set countermeasures to address them. We have been very successful in preventing incidents, as well as apprehending suspects where incidents have occurred. Currently, most petty crime incidents are opportunistic in nature rather than planned,” said Hendricks.
He said the spike can be attributed to the increase in footfall in the CBD. “Negligence by the public is also a factor, as people are often not vigilant with their personal belongings, especially cellphones, especially when they are out on the town, having fun. They also leave belongings in parked motor vehicles in full view of passers-by instead of storing them out of sight in their boot,” he said.
Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said: “There has been a spike in crime and we can attribute this to the parolees that were released by the national government. Currently, the City is talking to a number of businesses to discuss its rent-a-cop model because we don’t have any additional resources that we can deploy. We did have an increase in deployment earlier this year but we cannot deploy any more officers in the CBD at this time.”
The rent-a-cop initiative was established to curtail racketeering in the CBD. The cost of it was R12500 a law enforcement officer.