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Residents’ concerns addressed

Residents here on the West Coast were recently given the opportunity to pose some pertinent questions to officials from the City of Cape Town during the Blaauwberg Constituency Meeting on Crime and Vagrancy.

The meeting, which was organised by local ward councillors and at which JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security and social services, was the main speaker, was held on Wednesday 1 August at the Leibrandt van Niekerk Hall in South Road, Table View.

One of the issues discussed at length, Smith says, is the expansion of a night shelter for homeless people.

“There is a major vacuum of night shelters in the area and almost none in the northern suburbs.

“We talked about the possibility of establishing such a shelter and we will try and make it happen with the help of the ward councillors,” says Smith.

He told TygerBurger that he believes the plans to erect a shelter in the area can be pulled off within the next six to nine months.

“They (the ward councillors) need to find available land, and we will find safe structures to help put up,” he adds.

He says this is a joint project on which the City and councillors will be working.

Mandy Da Matta, chairperson of the Table View Ratepayers’ Association who attended the meeting, says there is a definite drive to provide more safe sleeping spaces and shelters throughout the city.

“The safety of our residents is one of the main aims that should be looked at by a ratepayers’ association as that forms the cornerstone from which residents are able to operate in any suburb in the city.”

She says vagrancy and complaints about vagrancy are among the most reported incidents in the City of Cape Town.

Efforts to have a shelter built have been on the books for some time now.

At a subcouncil meeting held earlier this year, Nicky Rheeder, councillor for ward 107, put forward a motion to have one approved and built.

Other issues discussed were the neighbourhood watch structures and the support they receive in the form of resources.

“I pointed out that these neighbourhood watches are the one single deterrent to crime in the area,” Smith says.

Policing, safety and crime was also one of the primary topics discussed.

“We explained to the residents the role and responsibilities of the City’s Law Enforcement regarding crime prevention, and the role of the police.

“In the Western Cape we have just a bit more than half of the policemen and -women available to people compared to other parts of the country.

We do have a massive shortfall and this means that we have more pressure on the City to help fill that gap,” Smith says.

The matter regarding police shortage is one that needs serious attention, says Da Matta.

“The main problem that we face is a matter regarding the direct ratio of police officers to residents in a given area. The national average is 300-odd residents to one police officer. In the greater Table View area we are faced with a ratio of one police officer to 970-odd residents.

“The drive to fix this ratio to a more reasonable level has been taken up by the Community Policing Forum (CPF). We as a community should support the CPF in their drive to achieve a greater number of police officers at our Table View and Parklands satellite police station. We need more police officers on patrol in our suburbs.

“Add to this very low conversion rates from arrest through to successful prosecution, 3%, and less for most categories of crime. The picture gets more dismal by the second.

“We understand Smith’s frustration with national government not assisting the residents of Cape Town with better policing ratios and successful prosecutions. We however rely on our councillors and parliamentary representatives to assist our residents in raising these matters and getting a resolution in favour of the residents,” Da Matta says.

Other essential main issues discussed on the evening included land invasion, illegal protest action, minibus taxis and their behaviour on the roads, as well as water tariffs. The meeting was also attended by Ian Neilson, deputy mayor.

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