‘Visitors vulnerable’

2018-03-13 06:00

The Hout Bay Community Policing Forum (CPF) is requesting guesthouse and bed-and-breakfast owners to inform their visitors, especially foreigners, about safety concerns in the area.

Toby Adams, CPF chairperson, says many cases have been reported of visitors falling victim to crime.

“We are greatly concerned about people walking in the harbour or beach area after dark. Victims are robbed for their belongings and are sometimes even attacked violently. Visitors are not fully informed that it is not safe to walk in a deserted or badly lit area, for example small alleyways on the way to the beach and beach area, as they are vulnerable to being mugged. Valuables should not be visible or carried in public places,” he says.

Following a post about owners of such establishments informing visitors about the dangers, some owners expressed reluctance to convey the message to visitors, saying it would cause panic and prevent people from visiting the area.

But Adams says it has to be done. “What can we do? It has to be done. Should we just keep quiet? We are saying it is better to be safe than sorry. I suggest we put it out there. We have noticed that most visitors are dropped at restaurants or beaches by car but would prefer to walk back at night. Don’t walk back, call an Uber. We all need to be safe and tell our visitors to do the same,” says Adams.

To ensure safety, the Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch (HBNW) has compiled a brochure containing comprehensive information on safety and the do’s and don’ts in the area.

“This this readily available for guesthouse and B&B owners to give to their visitors. It’s not anything new. I remember years back when I was in Miami Beach, I was given a document that told me things to do and what not to do to be safe. So it’s not like this is something new. It can go a long way in addressing the problems we have. We just have to be safe. Despite this concern, Hout Bay remains perfectly safe and crime is steady,” says Adams.

Doreen Malan, HBNW media liaison, says this year the crime figures as reported to Watchcon for January and February are the lowest since 2012 when they first started collating this information. 

“Having said that, we can see that incidents of individual crime like muggings and so on are still high, continuing a trend which started in October last year when we recorded the highest number of this type of incident in many years. The problem areas continue to be the harbour area, the beach and Sandy Bay and the times are usually around late afternoon and evening.

“ATM fraud (card skimming) is an ongoing concern and people need to be very careful when someone approaches them at an ATM,” she says.

Do not:

. Wander around with high-value cameras, jewellery and expensive brand-name backpacks and bags.

. Swim in the river or in the ocean near the river mouth. Due to the drought causing low water flow, the water contains high levels of toxic bacteria which will cause gastroenteritis­.

. Discuss your plans, like going for a hike, in front of strangers.

. Enter less privileged areas unless you are part of a formal tour group.

. Leave valuables in sight on car seats in unattended cars.


. Keep passports and credit cards in a separate pocket or belt. Leave unimportant cards with R200 to R300 in your wallet.

. Tell your host (or someone similar) where you are going and when you expect to be back.Give them your phone number. If you do not return in time, they can call you. If you don’t answer the call, they will understand that there may be a problem and can take steps.

. If confronted: stay calm, avoid escalating the situation, and comply with demands.

. Keep your bags close and your valuables in your pockets.

. When putting your bag aside in public places, link the bag strap around your chair or table leg – or even around your own leg – so it can’t be slid away from you by someone standing or passing nearby.

 HBNW operates a local emergency response centre called HBNWatchcon. Call 021 790 9333 should you experience any problems.


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