Note hotspots of homelessness

2015-05-06 09:30
Vagrancy was a hot topic at a recent Community Police Forum meeting in Plumstead.  


Vagrancy was a hot topic at a recent Community Police Forum meeting in Plumstead. PHOTO: ASTRID FEBRUARIE

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Vagrancy and drugs topped the agenda at a recent Community Police Forum meeting held in the Diep River policing area.

At the meeting Suzette Little, City member for social development and early childhood development, spoke about some of the challenges in Cape Town communities.


She said the number of homeless children on city streets was a concern. Various interventions were done, including the establishment of a safe house.

“It’s a complex and sensitive issue. Children are found in areas where their stay on the streets is being supported by residents. We now have an unmarked vehicle used by social workers which goes around and carries out interventions,” she explained.

Little said once the children were assessed and the matter referred to the provincial social development department, a court process got underway to establish what was best for the child.

“It’s also difficult because if the child is placed in a foster home and the parents are not strict, they just run away and end up back on the street.”

She said the City had a hotspot system in which locations where homeless people gather were marked and resources dispatched accordingly. She urged residents to register the hotspots in their areas so action could be taken.

“The problem is while some are genuinely struggling and want help, there are those who refuse assistance and we just keep going back to speak to them. Not everyone living on the streets is bad, we have a wide range of professionals who go through financial struggle and end up on the streets.”

A resident said she was concerned about bin pickers who came to her community when the rubbish bins were put out for collection. In a recent incident, she explained, she noticed a man acting suspiciously and called a security company. The security worker found several knives on the man. “One of the knives was this long. I don’t want people with knives like that walking around. What do we do, because it’s so difficult?” she asked.

In response, Little encouraged residents to speak to their neighbourhood watches to find a solution.


Diep River police spokesperson Warrant Officer Keith Chandler gave an overview of the drug trade in the area.

He explained while there were no drug outlets in the area, the police faced an uphill battle with the dial-a-drug service.

Chandler said the operations were all very secretive and worked on a referral system.

“A dealer in this area will never approach you. The users pass dealers’ numbers onto each other and when you call you have to say from whom you got the number. Only then will they arrange to meet.”

He explained in recent arrests the ages of drug users varied widely – from a seven-year-old boy to an 84-year-old woman.

In the first case the boy was found smoking tik at school. Chandler explained it was found the entire family used the drug.

“The granny said she smoked tik because it made her feel nice. The age groups of users vary and so do the types of drugs. In our busts we have arrested dealers for drug deals valued from R50 to R10 000.”

Chandler also organises workshops at schools, community meetings and old age homes to inform people of the dangers of drug abuse.

Crime trends

In his presentation, station commander Lieutenant-Colonel Mzwandile Gqabi said that while the statistics revealed an overall decrease in crime, the police were worried about current crime trends.

He said train robberies were high on the agenda and explained commuters were being targeted between 06:00 and 18:00.

Gqabi also warned residents to be wary of walking around at night. He said recent reports indicated a VW Polo and a white Toyota Yaris used in robberies were moving through from Rondebosch to Plumstead. He said the occupants of the cars would jump out of the car and rob victims on the street.

“When we analyse our crime, we find that it is often motivated by drugs. People are robbing and stabbing to sustain their habits. In this precinct we are happy to have such active neighbourhood watches and encourage you to continue with the good work.”

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