Criminals ‘not tolerated’

2016-09-27 06:00

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A group of about 100 residents in the Lansdowne policing precinct braved the streets to keep their community safer.

On Monday 19 September just after 21:00 these residents took to the streets along with neighbourhood watch members from Groenvlei Community Watch as well as Yorkshire Neighbourhood Watch.

A neighbourhood watch member, who did not want to be named “for safety reasons” says they were doing the patrol to create awareness in the area.

“We want to be more vigilant in the area and show the criminals or unsavoury characters that we will no longer tolerate their actions. We are very happy for the numbers that came out tonight to assist in creating awareness in our community,” he says.

According to an alert broadcasting ahead of the patrol, the issue of sex work took priority.

“The sex work activities have been on a steady increase in the area and seems to be thriving at the expense of our community,” the message read.

According to the residents who joined in the patrol, Lansdowne Road is a hotspot for sex work. “It really is a huge challenge in this area as it has been coming on for years already. And it has spiralled out of control to an extent where the activity has now spread to Belgravia and Turfhall roads as well,” one neighbourhood watch member explains. “These are women that come from neighbouring areas and work here all hours of the day. It is not just at night anymore. What makes it even harder to police this activity is that we found these women now also (allegedly) rob their clients of their valuables, because they know the crime won’t be reported. A recent incident included that of a 14-year-old boy who was using the services of a sex worker,” he reveals.

“Tonight on our patrol we see that the activity has subsided to almost null so that tells us they were tipped off as well. But that is okay because that is what we want,” he says.

Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum cluster chairperson Hanif Loonat, who also joined the patrol, says this makes it difficult for police to act.

“These guys will not report the crimes because they are engaging in illegal activities. Also because some of them are married they won’t report the crime. Instead what they will do is commit perjury by lying to police about where and how the incident happened because they will have to claim from the insurance companies. It makes it really difficult. All we want is for people to stop making a market for this business in the area,” Loonat says.

Loonat has also urged the government to come up with a plan to tackle the issue around gangsterism, drugs and sex work holistically.

“The only way to stop sex work is through community mobilisation. Fines and arrests do not eradicate the problem. It is the oldest trade and will always exist as long as clients are available,” he says.

Ebrahim Hull, speaking on behalf of the Lansdowne Civic Association, says they receive complaints around sex work “as an immoral situation”.

“There are a lot of complaints and we do not want them here. We want the City of Cape Town and Vice Squad to step in and do something about it,” Hull says.

According to the group of concerned residents they also want the incomplete building on the corners of Lansdowne and Govan Mbeki roads to be dealt with.

“They are using the building for sex work now. It is exacerbating the problem.”
Lansdowne Community Policing Forum (CPF) chairperson Rafique Foflonker says the Vice Squad along with the CPF took to the streets again on Friday evening (23 September) for a six-hour operation targeting hot spots.

“Sixteen sex workers were intercepted and profiled. Thirteen were issued fines ranging from R500 to R1500. Three were issued with warnings. No arrests were made.

“However, several ladies were notified of possible arrest during the next operation if they failed to comply with court orders,” Foflonker says. 

He adds data collected during the operation indicates that in the Lansdowne precinct:

 60% of the sex workers received several fines previously.
 80% of the sex workers are under 32 years old.
100% of those issued with fines admitted to heavy drug dependencies and,
60% or more of the sex workers come from outside the Lansdowne precinct.

“Shockingly, several of the sex workers profiled demonstrated high levels of intelligence. However, their addiction to drugs can be attributed to extremely poor decision making, illogical and risky behaviour.

“Those with children indicated that their mothers or sisters were fostering them on a full-time basis.

“We will consult with the Department of Justice, police, Law Enforcement, residents, neighbourhood watches and other agencies to find a sustainable way forward to address this issue. Residents are encouraged to engage the CPF Executive Committee to share ideas and suggestions for continuous improvement,” Foflonker says.

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