Businesses stand together to increase safety

Mitchells Plain Business Against Crime Forum (BACF) chairperson Cassiem Gamiet and co-opted member, Daniel Rass.

Mitchell’s Plain businesses with the help of the police and City of Cape Town law enforcement agencies are ready to combat crime and keep shoppers safe.

Executive members of Mitchell’s Plain Business Against Crime Forum (MPBACF), representing local business owners and hawkers in Town Centre, the industrial hive and Liberty Promenade, met with the Plainsman on Thursday October 27.

For now they are concentrating on the business area bordered by Fourth Avenue, AZ Berman Drive, Morgenster Road and the railway line.

Cassiem Gamiet, chairperson of the forum, said the MPBACF includes all businesses in Mitchell’s Plain but they would like to target specific areas.

“These are crime hot spots for crimes such as hijackings, robberies, theft of and out of motor vehicles,” he said.

“We want to ensure the safety of the community and the consumer, from their homes, to the shop and their return. We want to reduce the act of crime against the consumer,” he said.

Mr Gamiet and an executive committee were voted in at a meeting called by Captain Harry Brickles of Mitchell’s Plain SAPS on Tuesday May 31.

Captain Brickles facilitated the meeting and reported that 50 percent of crime reported in Mitchell’s Plain was a result of crime in the CBD, including the Town Centre, the hive and Liberty Promenade.

He said the main objective of the meeting was for businesses to join forces to combat crime

“This joint venture must encourage and drive safety campaigns together with all stakeholders,” he said.

Captain Brickles stressed that the forum would be driven by business owners, and that SAPS and other stakeholders would stand in as co-opted members.

“All role-players will be kept accountable for their respective duties as members,” he said.

At the forum’s last meeting on Thursday October 20, Captain Brickles reported that the Town Centre would be fenced off during the festive season.

Brigadier Cass Goolam, Mitchell’s Plain station commander, during an interview with the Plainsman on Friday October 28, said the Town Centre should be reviewed in context.

“It is made up of various entities – it is a transport interchange; there are hawkers and businesses; and government-owned buildings and spaces,” he said.

He said the Town Centre is the ideal design for crime, with lanes and turns offering escape routes.

Brigadier Goolam has made formal requests in meetings to have the Town Centre redesigned.

He is specifically concerned about the borders of the centre, to either have it fenced off or have stalls act as boundaries for access control for vehicle and pedestrian traffic, like any other centre.

“I’ve raised the issue since I’ve been stationed in Mitchell’s Plain (in 2009),” he said.

He saluted the Facebook group “Save the Mitchell’s Plain Town Centre” started by Town Centre tenant and Eastridge resident Rozario Brown, founder and coordinator of the annual DStv Mitchell’s Plain Festival (“Save Town Centre,” Plainsman, October 26).

“The situation is untenable, however, we as the police have seconded resources to the Town Centre since my appointment as station commander, including specific deployments in the greater CBD area, which directly and indirectly impacts on the Town Centre,” he said.

Brigadier Goolam said they have employed specific operational methods to impact crime in the Town Centre. “I am impressed with our achievements,” he said.

He said despite limited resources their partnership with the City’s law enforcement directorate and the taxi fraternity were yielding positive results.

He said they have been successful in identifying crime threats in the area, which the police can act upon accordingly.

“We are prepared to partner with anyone prepared to reduce crime,” he said.

Every year Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum receive a stipend from the City of Cape Town for the deployment of neighbourhood watch members over the festive season.

Similarly, the Mayoral Urban Regeneration Programme (MURP) has set aside R8 million for the safety and security of eight business nodes, namely Mitchell’s Plain Town Center, Harare and Kuyasa interchange precinct, Bellville transport interchange precinct and Voortrekker Road corridor, Wesfleur business node (Atlantis), Athlone CBD and Gatesville, Ocean View and Macassar.

Each node will receive its quota to recruit ten new Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers to enforce by-laws.

The City has also tabled a festive season preparedness plan 2016/2017, which is due to kick in this month.

The 10-page document says the season brings increased risk of incidents that could affect public safety as well as service delivery.

This is due to increased visitors, increased internal movement of residents for leisure purposes, and increased leisure activities such as events and festivities during this period.

The report presents the highlights of the City’s preparations as well as the actual preparedness plans of the relevant departments.

According to the report, 1 139 operational members from the City’s three policing departments, Metro police, traffic services and law enforcement, will be deployed in accordance with the season’s policing plan.

It identifies the operational focus areas, priority deployment areas, agreement of joint operational centres, staff resources, media liaison, special instructions and other objectives that these three departments will share during this period.