A homeless man is recovering in the Company’s Garden after he was stabbed, allegedly by a group of drunk school pupils who were celebrating the end of the term.
The incident happened in the early hours of Sunday September 30, when Rameez Kemp and his partner, Carin Rhoode, who have been sleeping in the Company’s Garden for years, heard a ruckus outside their structure.
Ms Rhode said the school pupils usually party in the garden at the end of term as they are unable to enter the clubs because they are under-age.
“These children were in the garden for a couple of hours, drinking litres of liquor. They became rowdy after they got drunk.”
She said Mr Kemp had stopped people from walking through the garden earlier in the night because of the rowdy pupils.
“He told them they are going to get hurt and escorted them out of the garden. A Central City Improvement District (CCID) vehicle patrolled at the time, but left again.”
She said after they had laid down to sleep, they felt a brick fall on their structure. “Rameez got out of the tent to tell the children to leave us alone, but then they grabbed him and started attacking him.”
Mr Kemp was stabbed three times in the back, once on the side and kicked so badly in the stomach that his intestines ruptured.
“When they were done they just ran away. I ran to get help, but at that moment there was no one around. While I was in the road, they threw a bottle at me. If I hadn’t ducked, I would’ve been hit too.”
Ms Rhoode said after a police vehicle she had flagged down failed to stop for her, she eventually found a CCID guard in Bree Street who assisted her to call an ambulance for Mr Kemp. He was rushed to Somerset Hospital where he had to undergo an emergency operation.
“Rameez could have died. The law enforcement agencies are always searching homeless people, but these children had dangerous weapons. Why did no one stop them from drinking? People are not allowed to consume alcohol in the garden, but no one stopped them. If someone had stopped it there, none of this would have happened.”
According to CCID safety and security manager, Muneeb Hendricks, Mr Kemp confronted the five to seven drunk youngsters after they threw something on his roof sheet. He then apparently chased them armed with an iron rod. “The students initially fled but as they neared Wale Street they turned around and attacked him, whereupon he was stabbed approximately four times in the back. His girlfriend made her way to the nearest CCID public safety officer who immediately called for an ambulance. The ambulance arrived and took him to hospital.”
Ms Rhoode said that school pupils consuming alcohol is a regular occurrence.
“It happens every end of term – they come here and drink in the garden. I recognise the pupils. They are the same clique that comes here all the time. They could have killed Rameez, and if not him, someone else.” Ms Rhoode said to top it all off, Somerset hospital had discharged Mr Kemp two days after his surgery because they needed the bed, without any pain medication or another hospital date.
“He walked all the way from Somerset hospital with his wounds and still has staples where they had operated. Does the life of a homeless person mean nothing?” asked Ms Rhoode, in tears.
She said while the hospital may have reported the incident, they have not yet laid a charge. “I still have to open a case because I can’t leave it like this.”
Asked about reporting the incident to the police, Mr Kemp who was lying on a bench in the garden, asked: “Who do I lay a charge against?”
Cape Town Central police spokesperson, Captain Ezra October, said he was unaware of the incident and urged the victim or the witness to open a case at the police station. “The victim and the witness needs to give a statement so that we can follow it up and check the camera footage in the Company’s Garden.”
Captain October said there was a concern every end of term with school pupils coming into the city centre and drinking in the streets, sometimes inside of taxis. The matter was discussed at the community police forum (CPF) meeting on Thursday October 3 at the Cape Town Central police station.
At the meeting, a Long Street businessman reported that Long Street was chaotic on Saturday September 30, at the end of the term.
“There was no police presence – it was like a riot. The aggressive begging and urinating in the streets was out of hand. Nothing is being done about this.”
Cape Town Central police station commander, Brigadier Hansia Hansraj, said there are various patrols and activities in Long Street and the police, as well as the City’s Law Enforcement and the CCID have a strong presence in the street. The police, aware of the end-of-term celebrations, held a crime-free night operation on Friday September 29, but the party continued on Saturday.
Colonel Andre Coetzee said police deployment had increased in Long Street on Friday, and they had at least 20 officers on duty in the area on Saturday.
He urged the residents and business people to work with the police and report disturbing behaviour and matters of concern.
“Everyone is responsible for safety. There are many security authorities working in Long Street. It is a partnership and if we are aware of these incidents, we will assist where possible.”
Mr Hendricks said the influx of pupils to the CBD at night is a major concern as they are mostly teenagers who are too young to enter the clubs.
“They then bring alcohol with them, drink inside the taxis and get completely inebriated. This results in numerous concerns such as drinking in public and being drunk in public, getting into fights, and urinating and vomiting in public spaces.”
He said that when this threat is detected, the CCID will always alert the primary law enforcement agencies and, along with law enforcement, the alcohol is confiscated and impounded, and the taxis concerned are issued an instruction to leave the CBD and take the youngsters home.
“Regular interventions are held in the Company’s Garden and whenever this activity is discovered, all alcohol is confiscated and the person in possession issued with a fine. If the students are from any of the surrounding schools, they are transported back to the school and the principal is informed.”
Meanwhile, the CCID member who oversees the Chrysalis Academy student ambassador project that runs during daytime hours in the Company’s Garden has made contact with Ms Rhoode and also requested one of the CCID fieldworkers to assist.
This fieldworker has arranged for Mr Kemp to be taken back to the hospital.
The spokesperson for the Western Cape Health Department, Marika Champion, confirmed that Mr Kemp was at Somerset Hospital and underwent an emergency surgery on Sunday September 30. He was seen by the doctor on Wednesday October 3 and was told that he will be discharged and that he had to wait for his discharge letter and medication.
However, she said when the nurse brought the letter and medication, she was informed by another patient that Mr Kemp had left.
Ms Champion said Ms Rhoode visited the hospital later that day and took the letter and the medication on Mr Kemp’s behalf. She said Mr Kemp had been assigned all the correct medication, including pain medication.
“On review of Mr Razeem Kemp’s case, the patient was appropriately and timeously assessed and managed by the Emergency Centre and Surgical Medical and Nursing staff in all phases of his stay in the Emergency Centre as well as on the 2nd floor surgical ward at New Somerset Hospital.
“Western Cape hospitals treat many “homeless” patients, and do not discriminate on this basis. We do appreciate that the living conditions of many of our patients are very challenging due to many factors, but patients are advised to stick to their discharge instructions and to report to an Emergency Centre if needed.”
The City’s Mayoral committee member for saftey and security; and social services, JP Smith, said the incident took place outside the Company’s Garden, by the arch on Government Avenue towards Wale Street, and referred the CapeTowner to the police.
He said the Recreation and Parks Department has placed two security guards at the facility to patrol the area both during the day and at night.
“The Cape Town CCID also assists with additional security personnel during the day. Unfortunately, the facility is quite vast and difficult to secure. It is also not sustainable to increase the number of security guards as the cost is very high.”
He said the department has an active steering committee in place to address security concerns in the garden.
Possible interventions to improve safety include installing adequate lighting in each area to improve visibility and installing CCTV cameras that link directly to the City’s security control room.
“The department will consider all of these options within the limitations of available resources.”