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Julian Jansen – Journalist

City to spend around R40 million on securing community facilities

The R40 million expenditure includes everything, from burglar bars and alarms to physical patrols at clinics, libraries and recreational facilities. Read more below:

The City of Cape Town’s Social Services Directorate is planning a major financial injection this financial year to keep community facilities safe from criminals.

The Directorate’s facilities include clinics, libraries, community centres, sports fields and resorts, among others. Some of these facilities are prone to acts of vandalism and crime, with millions lost as a result of ongoing repairs and replacement of stolen equipment and infrastructure, but also untold costs in the disruption of services to communities.

In a bid to stem the tide, Social Services plan to implement a number of initiatives in this financial year, including:
• R10,1 million for security hardening measures like burglar bars, alarm systems, high mast lighting, etc.;
• R20 million for the deployment of Facility Protection Officers; and
• R9,8 million for the deployment of 312 Safety Wardens

The security upgrades and staff deployment will happen city-wide, with a special focus on hotspot areas.

‘The City has hundreds of facilities designed to cater for the needs of the communities, but too often things fall flat because the facility is damaged and service delivery or access is disrupted. It is not just hard on the pocket as a result of the running repairs, but it affects the morale of both residents and staff members.

‘For example, a seemingly simple act of cable theft at a clinic could have far-reaching consequences. If there is no electricity, staff can’t work and patients can’t be treated. The clinic is closed until the damage is repaired and frankly, that doesn’t necessarily happen immediately. So just the cost to people’s lives and their time from these selfish acts is immense,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.

Apart from security hardening measures, the Social Services Directorate is also funding the deployment of 90 Auxiliary Law Enforcement Officers and 70 safety wardens through the Facility Protection initiative. It started as a pilot project in 2017, where Neighbourhood Watch members in good standing were trained and employed through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to conduct patrols in and around facilities in their areas. This initiative creates a visible presence around high-risk facilities, and the people employed know the area well and have a vested interest in safeguarding their communities.

Additionally, 312 Safety Wardens are to be deployed to hotspot facilities through the Recreation and Parks Access Control and Protection project. The recruitment of Safety Wardens is an additional initiative to help address the ongoing theft, vandalism and security issues prevalent at City facilities and spaces.

They will be tasked with:
• basic access control at facilities and monitoring facility usage over weekends and after hours;
• engaging users, clubs, individuals or members of the public about facility use or any by-law contraventions;
• alerting Law Enforcement or line staff of any vandalism, theft, by-law or other contraventions;
• monitoring and recording water usage, wastage or any contraventions of the water restrictions; and
• monitor and record electricity usage at facilities

‘Given the number of facilities across the metropole, it is challenging to keep tabs on all of them, all of the time. The Safety Wardens are not security guards, but rather eyes and ears on the ground that we hope will help prevent problems, but also highlight problems when they do arise so that these can be addressed quickly.

‘We are spending a lot of money on improving the protection of our facilities, but the users and surrounding communities also have a role to play. These community facilities are crucial to positive youth and community development, and so we can’t sit idly and allow a few individuals to destroy that which benefits so many. I appeal to residents to blow the whistle on criminals and to be vigilant and report any suspicions of wrongdoing to the City’s Law Enforcement Department or the South African Police Service,’ added Alderman Smith.

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