Police confiscate litres of booze at lights festival

The annual lights switching on event drew thousands to the city centre.

Law enforcement officers confiscated 312 litres of alcohol from the public on Sunday December 2, during the 50th annual switching on of the festive lights in the city centre.

The event drew thousands of people who camped out from the morning to ensure good spots and lined the city streets to enjoy the star-studded line-up.

A further 35 litres, bottles and bags of alcohol were confiscated by the police.

The City’s Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, said the festival was arguably the biggest free, open-air event and four months of planning went into making it an evening families and all ages can enjoy.

“Construction of the lights, the maintenance and the staging of the event has a team of approximately 1 505 people,” said Mr Smith.

The event kicked off with a set from DJ Portia, who then introduced the young winner of the City’s Music Challenge – Crazy-J Suave. There was also entertainment and acts by the Zip Zap Circus, Laila van der Ross and Queen Angela, the Cape Town Freestylers as well as Ocean View’s The Unknown Dance Crew.

Mr Smith said despite the tight security, it was “disheartening that a few people were out to make the event unpleasant for the thousands”. Arrests were made for the possession of dangerous weapons, assault, malicious damage to property and theft, and hundreds of litres of alcohol were confiscated.

“Regardless of our pleas for people not to bring alcohol to the event, officers still confiscated 312 litres which includes 195 beers, 176 ciders, 48 bottles of wine and 49 bottles of spirits. Alcohol is not allowed for a very good reason and our officers will not tolerate such a blatant disregard of the law,” said Mr Smith.

The Adderley Street lights will stay on until the end of January.

Meanwhile, police kicked off their festive season operation with roadblocks at Sir Lowry, Chris Barnard and Strand streets, and Philip Kgosana Drive, where they searched 153 vehicles, and issued fines to the value of R320 000.

Cape Town Central police spokesperson, Captain Ezra October, said 18 people were arrested for drugs, three people were arrested for possession of dangerous weapons, two people were arrested for robbery and two people for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Three taxis were also impounded for various offences.

The Cape Town Central Improvement District (CCID) safety manager, Muneeb Hendricks, said this year’s festive lights switch-on went off without any major incidents due to effective policing strategies being put in place before the event.

He said the CCID deployed 100 public safety officers (PSOs) and five lock-up vehicles all over the city, concentrating on the periphery of the event, and also on other high-frequented areas in the CBD.

“We targeted people who were drinking alcohol in public and carrying dangerous weapons by holding roadblocks and conducting stop-and-search operations. As a result, large volumes of alcohol and some weapons were confiscated.

“This actually diminished the opportunity for people to commit crime, act riotously and engage in unsocial behaviour, making this year’s festival much safer than those of previous years.”

He said most complaints received were noise-related due to cars playing loud music near apartment buildings in the early hours of the morning.

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