Vagrants rile residents

2015-05-05 06:00
Concern over vagrants and action by police were the main topics at a recent public meeting in Simon’s Town. 

PHOTO: 
MONIQUE DUVAL

Concern over vagrants and action by police were the main topics at a recent public meeting in Simon’s Town. PHOTO: MONIQUE DUVAL

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Vagrants and complaints against the police were hot topics at the recent Simon’s Town Community Police Forum meeting.

Ongoing issues around criminal acts by vagrants took centre stage as residents and businesses came out to raise their concerns.

In her address, CPF chairperson Aliet Pelt explained complaints and concerns about vagrants continued to dominate as the town seemed to be an attraction.

She said the number of contact crimes is also a concern and the CPF is working with the community to see how these issues can be addressed.

In his crime report, Warrant Officer Cassie Carstens reported house break-ins had come down, but explained theft out of motor vehicles were a concern in Glencairn and Glencairn Heights.

Commenting on the assaults, Carstens explained many of these were in Red Hill.

The floor was opened to questions and residents immediately posed questions about the vagrants.

One resident, who recently moved from Durban, asked why police did not question vagrants who were seen “standing around” knowing crime will “increase when they are around”.

Carstens explained if vagrants are inebriated or are committing a criminal act, police can act.

“If they are just sitting there, there is nothing we can do,” he said.

Sector commander Warrant Officer Nicholas Spreeth explained residents needed to understand that the Loitering Act no longer existed and there was no legislation which prevented anyone who didn’t live or work in an area from being there.

A business owner then raised the alarm about a “violent” vagrant who reportedly attacked a Mach 1 security guard in St George’s Street.

He explained: “The guard brought the man to the station and told officers he was causing problems but officers said there was nothing they could do. As they left the vagrant attacked the guard and when he defended himself the police charged the guard with assault”.

The business owner said if the vagrant was dealt with, the assault case “would never have happened”.

Pelt explained in cases like this, residents and businesses should come to the CPF and lodge a complaint. Several residents agreed.

“We need a statement and it will be escalated and dealt with. Look for the officer’s name on his badge and record the date and time,” she said.

In response, Carstens said he has been a police officer for 32 years and was aggrieved every time someone claimed police weren’t doing their job.

“It’s one police member that gives everyone a bad name. It’s not all of us and I urge you to report such conduct,” he said.

In a separate interview, ward councillor Simon Liell-Cock said vagrants were becoming a problem in Simon’s Town and confirmed he received continuous reports about their behaviour.

“The problem is they are drunk and interfere with people. There is defecating on pavements, aggressive begging and even a case where a baby was snatched.”

Liell-Cock believes this is having an adverse effect on business and tourism in the seaside town.

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