Coastal parking danger zone

2015-11-17 10:09
Motorists are being warned to not linger in dark, secluded coastal areas after nightfall. In recent weeks these areas have seen an increase in hijackings and robberies.

Motorists are being warned to not linger in dark, secluded coastal areas after nightfall. In recent weeks these areas have seen an increase in hijackings and robberies. (Samantha Lee)

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Stopping in a secluded, quiet place to catch up with your partner at night may not be the best idea, police warn.
Following several attacks on unsuspecting couples at lookout points along the costal road, police management is urging residents to steer clear from such places after dark.
The poorly lit area has become increasingly popular as the festive season approaches for couples seeking alone time after sunset.
In the most recent incident, a couple was parked at the secluded Swartklip lookout point when they were approached by two men.
“The suspects attempted to hijack the couple, who were parked alone at the lookout point on Friday at 23:33,” says police cluster commander Major-general Abraham Goss.
The boyfriend retrieved his licenced firearm and shot both hijackers, killing one and injuring the other.
“Both men are wanted in relation to other cases. The one who was injured can be linked to several hijackings and house and business robberies in the area,” says Goss.
Criminals hide in the bushes and wait to pounce on couples who visit the isolated spot.
“Now that the weather is changing, we see people parking off at the coastal areas a lot more often. They would go to the pubs and clubs, then park off till 01:00 or even the earlier hours of the morning,” explains Goss.
While the couples are distracted, suspects approach them and either rob or hijack them.
“This is dangerous, because it is very dark at these places and it is far from the residential area. If you are hijacked in the early hours of the morning or late at night, it is long before you get to civilisation,” warns Goss.
Police and law enforcement officers patrol the beaches.
But JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, says they can only do so much.
“The City of Cape Town has limited enforcement resources and unfortunately officers cannot be everywhere all of the time. The police therefore also have a crucial role to play. With the festive season approaching, City enforcement staff will be deployed to the areas with the highest concentration of visitors, like beaches and other public areas,” says Smith.
He agrees with Goss: “The reality is that dark, secluded spots have an association with crime and other antisocial behaviour. I would therefore discourage the public from visiting such areas after dark and exposing themselves to potential risk.”
This applies to the lookout point and the coastal area along Baden Powell Drive.
And although police have increased their patrols in the area, Goss urges residents to tread with caution.
“If you are going to visit these secluded areas rather go in groups,” he says.
Smith also urges residents to work with the City’s enforcement agencies and police by blowing the whistle on any criminal activity they might witness or be aware of, but also by taking responsibility for their personal safety.
Smith says lighting these areas may not make a difference and other priorities in terms of providing public lighting in residential areas and public spaces with high traffic volumes should take preference.
“It is also not guaranteed that public lighting at lookout points would make a significant difference – at the end of the day, the fact that most of the spots are secluded poses a far greater risk.”

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