Clifton beach row: Complaints pile up against PPA

Security officers on the beach. (Supplied by PPA)
Security officers on the beach. (Supplied by PPA)

The City of Cape Town will approach the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) in the new year to investigate the private security company Professional Protection Alternatives (PPA) that allegedly forced beach goers to leave Cape Town's popular Clifton Fourth Beach last week, while ANC Western Cape secretary Faiez Jacobs has laid a charge with the police.

"[T]he City will be laying a complaint with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) once its offices reopen after the festive season", reads a statement from Cape Town mayor Dan Plato.

READ: Clifton beach controversy: Police, Public Protector asked to investigate PPA security as clashes break out

"The organisation is a nationally constituted body that governs the private security industry. We are laying the complaint so that the matter can be fully investigated by the appropriate structure so that any wrongdoing can be identified and addressed accordingly by PSIRA."

Jacobs was on the beach when the incident happened. On Saturday he laid charges of intimidation, harassment and contravening PSIRA-regulations against PPA with the police.

City and PPA link 

He also wants the Public Protector to investigate the alleged link between the City and PPA.

He suspects there is a link between PPA and the City, as they have been seen with metro police officers and enforcing by-laws on other occasions. He alleges vendors have also been asked to leave public spaces on the Atlantic Seaboard by PPA. He further claimed that young black and coloured people have been saying that they have been searched by PPA's security guards.

"It's not only a race thing. It is a class thing. The implied message is that when you’re black and poor, you bring criminality," Jacobs said.

Jacobs also wants the City to publicly apologise.

PPA in a statement last week denied that it shut the beach down, but said it had been there to help government authorities with problems at the beach.

The City on Friday distanced itself from PPA in a statement, saying it had not given any private company authority to enforce by-laws.

Notice on organiser

Also on Friday, a lobby group called Black People's National Crisis Committee had a protest march at the beach where they slaughtered a sheep to cleanse the area of racism, causing a confrontation with animal rights activists.

Plato said in his statement the City will serve a notice on the protest organiser as the act was performed in contravention of the City’s by-laws.

"It is our understanding that the Cape of Good Hope SPCA will also open a case of animal cruelty," he added.

"Many persons have asked why the City did not act. It should be noted that, during public order policing situations, the South African Police Service assumes command over all policing staff on the scene.

"Senior SAPS officials in charge of the situation at Clifton on the day would not allow City and SPCA staff to act to prevent the slaughter," Plato said.

He said the City will be engaging the police and Western Cape Police Ombudsman on the matter, "as we cannot allow anyone to undermine City by-laws and prevent them from being implemented".

"At issue was an allegation by the African National Congress (ANC) that a private security company acted inappropriately and this claim subsequently went viral on social media – at no point was an actual complaint directed via the correct channels for investigation," said Plato.

"The feedback I have received is that, despite the insinuation that particular races groups were targeted, all race groups were in fact asked to leave the beach; and they were asked in a peaceful, non-aggressive manner. PSIRA will have to get to the bottom of this, but to manipulate this information as has been done over the past week is disgusting and plays on the emotions of many."

Politicking allegations

Jacobs experienced the conduct of the security guards, which he described as "big, muscled guys" wearing bulletproof vests and other security paraphernalia, as intimidating.

"Any empowered person knows beaches don't close." He said when he confronted them with this, they backed down on.

He also dismissed the notion that that he was politicking in raising the matter.

"I didn't go to the beach as the provincial secretary," he said.

He said the matter highlights the spatial inequality in the city.

He said he spoke to some Clifton residents, and they did not seem hostile to beach goers.

Open facilities

Plato used his press release to remind the public that the city's facilities are open to all and that only uniformed City staff have the power to enforce by-laws.

"Anyone else who claims to have such powers is likely impersonating a peace officer, which is an offence."

He encouraged visitors to City-owned public facilities to report any problems or concerns about the conduct of staff or any person claiming to have peace officer status to their 24-hour hotline on 0800 32 31 30, which is monitored by an independent service provider.

Any safety concerns or requests for emergency assistance can be directed to the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre by dialling 021 480 7700 from a landline or 107 from a cellphone.

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