With the summer season fast approaching, our towns are looking forward to a busy period that will breathe some life into our local economy. We can all lend a hand in this by ensuring that visitors are made to feel welcome and safe.
In a country where we cannot hide from crime, it is our responsibility to work together with law enforcement agencies, neighbourhood watches and SAPS to eradicate the cancerous growth of crime.
This month saw the publication of a damning report by Johan Brand, Western Cape Police Ombudsman, on the effectiveness of the SAPS in the Overstrand. It is important, however, to see this report in context. It is a reflection on a national competency (or incompetency) and its mandate – and not on our local officers who are hamstrung by personnel and equipment shortages.
Our local SAPS members, and those who, through neighbourhood watches and other structures, work tirelessly on making our town safer, need to be commended for their hard work.
One of the challenges faced by our tourism industry is a marked increase in the number of public violence incidents, which increased by some 240% over the last three years in the Overstrand. This, combined with similar incidents over the mountain, has had a significant impact on our tourism numbers and subsequently our economy.
The good news, however, is that public violence crimes will not go unpunished. Earlier this month saw a man charged with assisting in setting vehicles alight during violent protests in Bot River, sentenced to 5-years’ imprisonment.
SAPS has confirmed that a task team is at work identifying those responsible for acts of public violence during the Hermanus unrest last year and that the perpetrators will soon be charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
This is an example that needs to be set to assist in bringing back confidence in the safety of our towns and signalling those looking to destroy our economy that such behaviour will not be tolerated.
We need to actively rebuild our image and economy, not burn it to ashes.