Security company stops beach patrols, as #ReclaimClifton protest planned

2018-12-27 14:29
Security officers on the beach. (Supplied by PPA)

Security officers on the beach. (Supplied by PPA)

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The private security company at the centre of the Cape Town's Clifton Fourth Beach "lock down" controversy has decided it will no longer patrol there, as a group of Cape Town residents gear up for a #ReclaimClifton protest.

"We will no longer be assisting the police, the metro police, anyone," advocate Bruce Hendricks told News24 on behalf of PPA Security.

"So, tomorrow they are on their own."

He said the company was contracted by some residents in the area to provide private security and would still patrol for its clients, which include restaurants in nearby Camps Bay. But they would not patrol on the beach, he said.

Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith and the City's safety and security head Richard Bosman were also meeting various law enforcement authorities on Thursday to get to the bottom of what had happened at the beach.

Western Cape ANC secretary Faiez Jacobs told News24 earlier this week that he was among a group of people on the beach on Sunday when they were asked to leave by representatives of PPA. 

He said he was among a number of people who questioned whether a private company was allowed to do this.

READ: 'The rich can't privatise beaches' – controversy brewing over private security clearing Clifton beach

The company has denied shutting down the beach, but said it was helping the City's law enforcement unit respond to crimes, which included two girls being raped at the beach. 

"Two 15-year-old girls... had been raped and were waiting on SAPS. This was why law enforcement closed the beach. [Every] other night it has been open to anyone that complies with the by-laws which Law Enforcement enforces," explained Landman.

"We were requested to accompany Law Enforcement as our Tactical Officers are highly trained and skilled professionals. If anyone claims they were on the beach and chased away, they would have seen that it was absolute mayhem and that Law Enforcement were really doing a great job to stabilise the situation – we did not close the beach."

The company sent pictures of some of its guards on the beach with City Law Enforcement authorities, and a picture of alcohol in a cooler box on the beach.

On Wednesday, the police said they had no record of the rape complaints. 

'They had not been given permission'

Smith said that private companies had no right to police public spaces, and that the PPA was not acting on the City's authority.

"No, they had not been given permission. They don't answer to us," he said.

However, he said private security companies did sometimes help in certain "volatile" circumstances if matters got out of control with "hooliganism". 

He told News24 that, after at least three incidents along the popular coastline – which included a man being attacked with a wooden pole, and an incident involving knives at Eden on the Bay – the City had upped its beach security.

In a statement later, Bosman said "for the record":

  • The City of Cape Town has no contract with PPA;
  • The City has at no stage given any authority to PPA to enforce by-laws;
  • I met with relevant area staff this morning to confirm this; 
  • All City beaches are open to all members of the public. While the City is able to set times of usage at beaches, we do not impose this unless there is a specific threat to public safety;
  • We have confirmed with Camps Bay SAPS that no incidents of rape were reported on Sunday, December 23, at Clifton Fourth Beach.

Smith said that beaches worldwide were not immune to crime, so the City deployed resources to keep beaches safe, regardless of whether they were in advantaged or disadvantaged areas.

He said Jacobs would be better placed to ask his party why it did not send more police officers to the beaches, since only national government had the authority to do that.

In response to Jacobs' concerns about private security companies, he added that the national government used private security companies at many of its facilities. 

Smith said he understood that, on the day in question, the Law Enforcement officers' shifts had already ended and they had already left Clifton Fourth Beach beach before the private company arrived.

Protest planned

He urged anyone who witnessed a private security company taking over policing on a beach to lay a complaint at their nearest police station so that it could be investigated.

Meanwhile, plans were afoot for a protest on Friday night, advertised as being hosted by Fees Must Fall Western Cape. 

"We are calling on all self-respecting Blacks (Indian, Coloured and Africans) to descend at Clifton 4th Beach on Friday 28 December 2018 at 18h00 for a political protest," reads the Facebook announcement titled "Reclaim Our Beaches From Racists #ReclaimClifton".

It continues: "After a long and arduous year under the racist regime of Helen Zille, the only thing our people need for now, as we prepare to expropriate our land stolen in 1652, is to cool off at the 2nd best beach in the world.

"Beaches have long been site[s] of political protest in South Africa. We need not remind people of the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953 that allowed whites exclusive preserve of public areas such as beaches, trains, parks, benches and, holy shit, even toilets, how illogical?"

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