Crime and grime


A bold new plan to tackle crime and grime in Marconi Beam and Montague Gardens has been tabled. Property and business owners met yesterday to make a bold step to improve business conditions by proposing a Special Ratings Area (SRA).

With scant resources and escalating crime and group of property owners have come together to present their ideas to tackle ongoing issues in the two areas.

Speaking to the TygerBurger ahead of the meeting, Jonty de la Porte , chairperson of the steering committee explained four years ago an armed robbery at the Cheese Factory Shop sparked an outcry when the owned was killed and his daughter injured in the shooting.

“A public meeting was hosted with various stakeholders at the police station and from that it was decided to form a Montague Gardens Business Forum to facilitate communication between the police, property owners and businesses.”

He says an initiative to get businesses to assist with security as volunteers failed because unlike neighbourhood watches which operate ion residential areas, volunteers do not live in Montague Gardens making it difficult.

De la Porte says property owners realised a better system was needed and two years ago started investigating the establishment of a SRA.

According to the City of Cape Town, a SRA refers to a clearly defined geographical area, in which property owners contribute additional rates to fund “top up” services for that specific area as per the approved business plan. The committee sought help from Derek Bock, chief operations officer of the Voortrekker Corridor Improvement District.

Currently, De la Porte says the business and industrial hub is hit hard by property-related crime issues, vagrancy, illegal dumping and vandalism.

In one of the serious incidents, TygerBurger published an online report after a woman was shot in the face at a business in Stella Road during a robbery in December.

“With all of this there has been an outcry and initially it was about getting authorities to do something. This has changed as owners have become very aware of the lack of resources. The steering committee was established in late 2014 and the meeting on Tuesday will be the first public consultation.”

The proposal calls for an SRA to cover approximately 1500 properties of which the owners will be charged extra rates.
De la Porte says the extra money will be channelled into improving security, cleanliness and social issues. He says the additional funding which will be managed by a Central Improvement District (CID) will see the employment of a manager who will manage security and cleaning teams to help improve the business hub.

“We are looking at the installation of 40 CCTV cameras, licence plate recognition (LPR) cameras and two dedicated patrol vehicles. In addition we will have cleaning teams to address the illegal dumping and to combat the urban decay and in addition a social team to help with issues like vagrancy.”

He says industrial areas like Blackheath and Parow have made a significant impact and as they continue to improve, Montague Gardens and Marconi Beam could soon start to see businesses vacate. He says with the development of a brand new industrial area known as Rivergate near Parklands, Montague Garden is feeling the pressure.
According to information provided by the City, SRAs are governed by Section 22 of the Municipal Property Rates Act (MPRA), the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), the Companies Act (Non Profit Company – NPC), the SA Constitution and the City of Cape Town’s Special Rating Area By-law of 2012.

With the associated costs of an SRA, property owners are billed an additional tariff based on the value of their property according to the most recent municipal evaluations. This is measured in millions.

The tariff estimate for the Montague Gardens, Marconi Beam SRA is R92. This means if your property is valued at R1m, you will be required to pay an additional tariff of R92 each month. This amount increases by R92 for every R1m in property value.

Yesterday’s meeting was the first public engagement to gauge the response of business and property owners. It will be followed by a lengthy public participation process where property owners will be required to vote. In order to get it approved by the municipality, the steering committee will need to obtain 51% yes votes.

De la Porte says they are hoping to make their full submission to the City by September 2016 to ensure the SRA is functioning by July 2017.

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