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Vagrancy and begging: How will the CID succeed in addressing these issues?

On a basic level, the reality is that we cannot police away poverty. Instead, holistic, integrated strategies are required if any sort of success is to be achieved.

We aim to achieve greater success than SAPS and the City through a number of measures. Crucially, these involve integrating the strategies for Public Safety, Social Upliftment and Urban Development and Upgrading.

a.     The CID will be present in Camps Bay 24/7, dealing with vagrancy / homelessness / illegal structures 24/7. In contrast, SAPS does not deal with these issues at all, and the City’s relevant resources are in Camps Bay to deal with these issues less than a few hours a week on average.

b.     The employment of 2x 24/7 dedicated Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) will give the CID the ability to deal with illegal structures immediately upon report. And placing the LEOs inside of 24/7 TAC vehicles means that they will be able to respond speedily.

c.     We have budgeted for foot patrol officers, who will deter vagrants and beggars, and ensure that we spot and deal with illegal structures / rough sleepers in areas such as the beachfront much faster

d.     The CID’s proposal to massively expand the CCTV network (covering all road intersections and green belt edges) will be able to spot potential rough sleepers / structure builders before they enter the spaces that they intend to illegally occupy. The 24/7 control room will then deploy the necessary resources to deal with this in real-time.

e.     Our Social Upliftment proposal (based on the Ignisive model … again, no contracts awarded yet) is a proven way to compassionately yet firmly get people off the street and into shelters. At the same time, this programme displaces informal (often aggressive) car guards and replaces them with polite, clean, sober, vetted car guards. We intend to extend this programme to everywhere that informal car guards are found. This in turn expands our “eyes and ears” on the ground even further, enabling faster reporting of petty crime and erection of illegal structures. Ignisive-style car guards also have an obvious incentive not to allow any “competition” by informal beggars and hence have already proven a good way to prevent new / additional street people from taking the place of those that we manage to get off the street.

f.      Our Urban Development and Upgrading proposal includes the rehabilitation and upgrading of our many, many green spaces. Most of these are currently havens for vagrancy. CBCSI currently receives on average 1-2 reports a day of illegal structures going up and/or campfires being started. Addressing this requires that these spaces be made safe for residents, that sightlines be improved, etc so that hiding places for criminals and illegal structures are minimized. Please visit the Shanklin Crescent Park for an example of what is possible in this regard (previously this space was derelict and regularly required rough sleepers / illegal structures / etc to be removed but since rehabilitation and ongoing maintenance began the problem has entirely disappeared).

As you can see from above, we have proposed an integrated programme, one in which overall success is very much dependent on the presence of all of the components. The primary purpose of our work was to make sure that there was sufficient budget to tackle the problems properly. There is of course scope for modifying any of these proposals once we move to implementation.

Note that all of the above must operate within the bounds of the law. In particular, attempting to push the law and/or do anything illegal will invite aggressive counter-action from certain activist NGOs and political parties, which will result in the sort of problems already seen in certain parts of Sea Point. A lot of work is already happening behind the scenes in this regard in Camps Bay, and our problems here would be much worse otherwise. This work is however being done by volunteers, who are burnt out, and is no longer sustainable.