Held to ransom by criminals

The Bo-Kaap

The Bo-Kaap and surrounding areas are being held to ransom by criminals hiding among the community in the Kraal and Strand Street Quarry, says Bo-Kaap Neighbourhood Watch chairman, Ebrahim Christian.

The areas are adjacent to each other and Mr Christian said they are concerned because more shacks are being erected there and crime is becoming an even bigger problem.

He said they’ve raised the issue with the ward councillor, Brandon Golding and the neighbouring area, De Waterkant started a petition calling for authorities to ensure the safety of the community and the development of business in the tourism sector.

The residents demanded that the government and law enforcement take action against the illegal settlement, crime and drug dens which have taken root at the national heritage site.

“Informal illegal invasions, brutal assaults, muggings, burglary, drug trafficking, litter (destroying the environment), fires and human faeces have become a regular occurrence in the Strand Street Quarry, De Waterkant / Bo-Kaap area.

“We, the undersigned, demand decisive action from the City of Cape Town, government, law enforcement and Environmental Affairs to make our safety their priority,” the petition read.

The quarry falls within wards 115 and 77 .

In July, former councillor of ward 115 Dave Bryant and ward 77 councillor Mr Golding held a meeting with relevant stakeholders to discuss the current challenges.

CCTV footage of recent muggings in the area was presented. The meeting heard that while the camera on Strand Street was currently not operational, the Hout Street camera, which was installed as a ward allocation project in 2015, had continued to assist in identifying numerous criminal and by-law offences in the Kraal.

Cape Town Central CPF chairperson Marc Truss said crime in the quarry has increased over the past few years. He said many culprits released during lockdown have been hiding out and operating from there.

Cape Town Central Police Station spokesperson Captain Ezra October confirmed that there was an increase of crime in the area and that they have made arrests on a daily basis.

He said the Kraal belongs to the City and all they can do as police is to respond to crime complaints from residents.

“We work with the neighbourhood watch in the area and they are active in combating crime in both areas. There are various people living in the Kraal and unfortunately, criminals are using the areas as a hideouts,” he said.

Mr Golding said they were aware of the shacks that have been erected, however, their hands were tied as evictions were illegal during lockdown. “We’re waiting for that to be lifted/end so that we our arms can be freed in taking action against illegal structures,” he said.

Mr Golding said the City was facing the legal matter against the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on land invasions, which he said limits them from taking action.

The SAHRC initiated court proceedings against the City to interdict them from preventing unlawful land occupations. The court ruled in favour of the SAHRC and the City applied for leave to appeal the judgement.