Cape Town boosts tourist ‘police force’ ahead of the holidays

The City of Cape Town (CCT) and the Western Cape Government (WCG) announced that their tourism safety units are being boosted with more hires to reduce crime during the peak tourist season.

The CCT will expand its unit to 28 crime fighters, while the WCG has launched its own unit, with 26 crime fighters working across the province until the end of February 2023. The province budgeted R280,000 for the initiative.

The units will target specific areas in Cape Town and beyond, the officials said.

Table Mountain Cableway and Lion’s Head Hiking Trail will get visible foot patrols from the CCT’s Unit, while a further presence in the CBD plans to stop petty criminals, opportunistic pickpockets, and ATM robberies.

Areas where the CCT’s Tourism Safety Unit focuses include:

  • Long Street
  • V&A Waterfront
  • Cape Town International Convention Centre
  • Table Mountain Cableway
  • Lion’s Head trails
  • Grand Parade

Victims of crimes will be offered trauma counselling, and those who had their travel documentation stolen will receive assistance to get an emergency passport via links to the necessary consulates.

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Victims can also bypass the South African Police Service (SAPS) and go straight to a Tourism Unit officer who will take their statement.

A move away from SAPS

This marks yet another move from the CCT and WCG to break away from the nationwide South African Police Service (SAPS), which the central government has constantly rejected.

This comes after the provincial and municipal figures complained about the Western Province SAPS being under-resourced to effectively deal with crime.

“Lost dockets, lack of evidence and corrupt officials are staple features of SAPS investigations, which is why so many criminals still roam our streets, terrorising communities,” said CCT Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis in August.

The province made numerous requests to Police Minister Bheki Cele to give the municipal department more power, but Cele denied the request.

During a parliamentary Q&A in August, Cele said that the Constitution of South Africa specifies that the policing services are structured to operate under the national commissioner, who has the power to manage the SAPS.

In September, President Cyril Ramaphosa reiterated this position, saying that the Constitution affirms that South Africa can only have a single, nationwide police service.

He further noted that a provincial commissioner is responsible for policing in their respective province and reports to the national commissioner.

The President also stated that the minister of police does not have policing powers and cannot hand over powers to provincial or municipal councils.

He added that the requested policing power change would be “inconsistent with the provisions as contained in Chapter 11 of the Constitution, and accordingly, invalid”.

Read: Ramaphosa shoots down Cape Town’s plan to build its own police force

Artmotion S.Africa

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