Lights could stay on in gang infested areas during blackouts

By Drum Digital
20 May 2015

The City of Cape Town is exploring the option of keeping street lights on during power outages to help with policing, specifically in Manenberg, Hanover Park and Ottery, a move welcomed by residents of the gang-ridden Cape Flats.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, told News24 on Tuesday that solutions being explored included limiting blackouts to daylight hours and keeping street lights on during outages.

Smith said patrols and night raids were “virtually impossible” in the dark as officers were unable to see where crime was being committed or who was responsible.

“Over the weekend, the situation was so out of hand we were forced to withdraw in Manenberg. We are still in the process of exploring the options with the utilities department, but hope to be able to roll out the plan by July.”

While no analysis had been done to determine if crime increased during blackouts, the dark provided the perfect cover for criminals, said Mitchell’s Plain Community Policing Forum chairperson, Michael Jacobs.

The cluster covers the province’s most gang-plagued areas including Manenberg, Hanover Park, Tafelsig, Lentegeur, Grassy Park and Lavender Hill.

“There’s no denying that when the lights go out, the streets are like booby traps,” he said. “The power outages give those with bad intentions the perfect opportunity to roam freely. Gangsters will find their rivals and thieves will find easy targets. People living in [gang strongholds] are limited to staying indoors to keep safe. This is the sad reality.”

Nothing good happens after dark in Manenberg, resident Lorraine Manuel agreed.


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