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More cops on Cape Town streets

More than 100 new metro police officers will hit Cape Town’s streets over the next few months, as the department beefs up its specialised units after receiving a multimillion-rand boost this week.

This week, the City of Cape Town approved its budget for the next financial year, which begins in July.

The funds for policing will also go partly to buying more vehicles and hand-held radios for officers, as well as to the launch of the Smartcop system.

Safety and Security was allocated R1.3 billion for its operating budget and R52 million for its capital budget. Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith explained that the operating budget had increased by R30m since the draft budget had been tabled earlier this year.

He estimated the department would now be able to hire around 115 new staff across all divisions.

At the moment, there are just over 600 metro police officers.

“There will be more metro police, traffic officers, law enforcement officers and firefighters. (Those sections) will receive an equal share,” said Smith.

Some of the new officers will work in the gang unit, which has made 107 arrests since its establishment in December.

More appointments are set for the drug enforcement unit, the liquor control unit and in the division dealing with “problem buildings”.

More public transport police will also be hired. These officers are currently based at transport hubs in Bellville, Philippi and at the city centre’s station deck. This service is expected to be extended to Wynberg, Mitchells Plain and Nyanga over the next few months.

Additional staff will also be hired to work in marine and environmental enforcement, handling issues along the shoreline.

More firefighters and traffic officers will also be employed. In a new project, school resource officers will be appointed to “improve safety in the most troubled schools”.

For the first time, law enforcement reservists will also be brought on boared.

Smith said in some cases officers had to share vehicles. He said additional vehicles meant more staff would be mobile and able to respond to incidents. Older vehicles were costing more money in maintenance. These would be phased out.

Hand-held radios will be bought, which would address a major shortage. “We can catch up on the backlog, where some staff were not connected to dispatch,” said Smith.

The Smartcop system will also start operating later this year.

“Our traffic vehicles will be the first of any city to sport dashboard cameras to help make our roads safer. These types of smart policing interventions allow us to do more with less and drive intelligent policing,” Smith added.

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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Have your Say

 

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Building, shacks burn in blazes across city

Firefighters spent hours battling a blaze that broke out in a Bree Street building in the city.

Fire department spokesman Theo Layne said the ground and first floors of the Imbuyambo Cultural Centre, near the corner of Bree and Prestwich streets, caught fire at about 12.40pm yesterday.

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

“There was nobody inside when firefighters arrived on the scene,” Layne said.

The fire attracted the attention of hundreds of spectators throughout the afternoon, who stood watching the firefighters, and taking pictures and videos with their cellphones.

Big black clouds of smoke billowed from the building as a fireman on a crane blasted water over the top of the smouldering building.

Some roads in the area were closed.

By late yesterday afternoon, firefighters were still at the scene, but Layne said the fire was under control.

Two people died and another two were injured in shack fires across the city at the weekend.

On Friday night a Gugulethu man died from his burn wounds after a shack in NY6 caught fire about 8pm.

In an earlier fire in Site C, Khayelitsha, a man and woman sustained burn wounds when their shack caught fire.

In

Zonnebloem, a man died after a backyard shack burnt to the ground just before midnight on Friday.

Four people were displaced but unharmed when a fire in Monwabisi Park destroyed three shacks in the early hours of yesterday morning, disaster management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Have your Say

 

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Cosatu hits back after DA march

Cosatu issued a counter-memorandum to the DA on Tuesday afternoon after violence broke out during the opposition party’s youth subsidy wage march in Johannesburg, forcing it to be abandoned.

The march, meant to be a peaceful protest, turned ugly when DA members were attacked by Cosatu supporters in Jorissen Street in Braamfontein, leaving at least three DA members with head injuries.

Cosatu members claimed to have been provoked by DA leader Helen Zille when she marched her supporters to within 50m of Cosatu House.

One of the injured was taken to hospital by ambulance after being hit by a flying brick, and a journalist was also caught in the mêlée, suffering a facial injury.

Police fired rubber bullets and sprayed tear gas at Cosatu supporters, dressed in red T-shirts, as they blocked the DA marchers.

The DA had marched to Cosatu House to deliver a memorandum to demand government wage subsidies for young people, which the party says will create more than 400 000 jobs, but the protest was eventually abandoned because of the violence.

Copy of Copy of ct cosda210Cosatu supporters dodge and throw rocks at DA supporters during clashes after a DA march. Picture: Chris Collingridge

INLSA

The government’s own wage subsidy proposal has been held up in discussions at Nedlac for a year.

However, Cosatu national spokesman, Patrick Craven, said in the counter-memorandum that the DA was serving the interests of big business and capitalism based on the false premise that the cause of high unemployment was the high cost of labour and restrictive labour laws that made it too hard to fire workers.

“No workers will be deceived by its programme, which is pro-big business and anti-workers, pro-rich and anti-poor,” said Craven. “The workers’ struggles to build a new and better SA cannot be led by those who benefited, and continue to profit, from inequalities, poverty and our oppression, and want to continue pursuing policies to entrench these injustices.”

Craven said the economy was still in white hands, and that the real beneficiaries of the proposed wage subsidy were the white males who stood to gain from increased production at lower costs.

The ANC, which had warned the DA not to go ahead with the march, said it was a publicity stunt by the DA to draw attention to itself.

ANC spokesman, Keith Khoza, said the march had achieved nothing besides provocation and fuelling violence among members of the tripartite alliance – Cosatu, the SACP and the ANC.

Copy of nd ST DA March 467A Cosatu member uses a shock stick to stop one of the DA marchers, who were trying to make their way to the federations Johannesburg headquarters to hand in a memorandum. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

INLSA

“We, as the ANC, cautioned the DA not to go ahead with the march, and it has achieved nothing and certainly won’t achieve anything because Cosatu does not deal with policy issues. It is a federation that looks after the interests of its members,” said Khoza.

He said the DA should have addressed the issue through parliamentary structures instead of trying to storm through Cosatu headquarters.

DA parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, told the crowd they were on the same side, fighting for economic freedom.

 

DA national spokesman, Mmusi Maimane, said the party would be laying criminal charges against Cosatu’s leadership for intimidation, inciting violence and holding an illegal gathering.

 

Craven said there had been injuries on both sides and, while it condemned “these acts of violence unreservedly”, the “vast majority of its members” had conducted themselves with “exemplary discipline and restraint”.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Have your Say

 

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Tag opens door for death row prisoner

Twenty-three years ago, Paul Evans was sentenced to hang and put on death row.

On Tuesday, prison officials strapped an electronic monitoring device to his ankle as he started a new chapter of freedom.

Evans, 44, was arrested for murder and robbery at the age of 18 and was sentenced three years later.

The demise of apartheid and termination of the death penalty resulted in Evans’s sentence being commuted to life imprisonment.

He received a second chance when the Department of Correctional Services chose him as one of the parolees to be fitted with the new monitoring device.

Evans was overwhelmed when he spoke about where his life was now compared with 23 years ago.

“I knew what my sentence would be and I was prepared to die. I also couldn’t live with myself for what I did.

“When Nelson Mandela took away the death penalty, it was a big adjustment.

“I had to change my thought pattern to spend at least 20 years in prison.”

Evans was denied parole on three occasions. His fourth attempt was successful and he became a day-parolee after serving 21 years and seven months of his life term.

As a day parolee, he is free to leave the correctional centre but has to sleep there. “I learnt a lot about my life, the cost of crime and what it meant to the people outside. I have no intention of coming back. It took me 12 years to realise there is life beyond prison and I met amazing people who helped rehabilitate me.

“This is an opportunity and I will grab it with both hands to lead a better life,” he said.

Evans studied sports psychology, electrical engineering and IT technology while he was incarcerated. He said he was looking for a job.

On Tuesday, Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula launched the pilot project for the electronic monitoring system at the Drakenstein prison.

The department will run the project for the next 12 months at a cost of R6.5 million.

So far 108 parolees have been fitted with the ankle device and the department plans to fit another 150 parolees.

The device is clamped on to the parolee’s ankle, activated and linked to a GPS system within seconds.

A control room will monitor the parolee and an alarm will go off when curfews and conditions are violated.

Paedophiles, for example, will be restricted from going near places where children are present, such as schools.

The device must remain attached to the parolee at all times. If it is tampered with, an alarm will be activated.

The department’s director for supervision of parolees, Ronald Ntuli, said: “So far, the project has been successful and we can track parolees anytime, anywhere.

“The cost of the device is R118 a day compared to the cost of more than R300 a day to maintain a prisoner, so it also addresses overcrowding.”

Mapisa-Nqakula said she would receive regular reports on how the system was faring.

“There is a need for the department to build a community correctional system that will earn the respect of the judiciary and society.

“We are releasing people and some of them have committed serious crimes but the public can have confidence and feel safe that there is a monitoring system in place and should not feel intimidated that inmates are being released,” she said.

* The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Jeff Radebe, has opened the first court building in the small farming community of Ashton. The court was completed in October 2010 at a cost of R7.6 million.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Have your Say

 

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MyCiTi bus service to Cape Flats ‘not feasible’

The expansion of the MyCiti bus service to Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain doesn’t make economic sense – and it’s only being done for political reasons, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber also believes the taxi organisations in the area will not easily be convinced to make way for the city’s integrated rapid transport system, which already functions along the West Coast and in the inner city.

“The idea of a quality MyCiti bus service to the Cape Flats might be politically attractive – but how much will it cost and where will the subsidies come from? Conditions are right for a rapid bus service on the West Coast. The distance is relatively short, there is no rail competition and the population is affluent enough to pay economic fares,” chamber president Michael Bagraim told a meeting between the city and the chamber on Tuesday.

He said a similar service to the Cape Flats would “double trip lengths”.

“There would be no dedicated roadway and the population cannot afford economic fares. We are trying to model our rapid transport services on some highly successful public transport services in two compact South American cities.

“The difference is this: the average trip length in the model cities is 7km. In Cape Town the average bus trip is 20km. In London the average public transport trip is just 8km,” said Bagraim.

He said this meant buses would be less productive here.

“Many of them will be able to make just one return trip in peak commuting times,” said Bagraim.

Mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater Brett Herron said he failed to understand why the chamber was not in support of integrated transport.

He said employees would benefit most when the service started at the end of 2013.

“We will also be engaging with taxi associations in the coming months. We understand it’s going to be complex, but our track record on the West Coast is going to assist us,” said Herron.

He told the meeting that the Metro South East had some of the highest densities in the City of Cape Town and there was an opportunity to provide important links between high-density areas through an integrated public transport service.

“As can be seen from the 2008 analysis, the Metro South East rail corridor is operating over capacity.

“We believe there is a definite need for a complementary trunk to the rail,” said Herron

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Have your Say

 

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Freedom of the city for Obamas

Bestowing the freedom of the city on US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will further boost Cape Town’s international image, says mayor Patricia de Lille.

A proposal to bestow the honour on the Obamas goes before the council’s rules committee on Tuesday.

The official opposition in the council objected to the proposal when the news was made known and Cape Argus readers responded negatively, typically asking what the Obamas had done to deserve receiving the accolade.

Making the announcement on Monday, De Lille said: “What the Obamas display and what they have brought to this world is hope.

“In recognition of their inspirational example and proof that every obstacle can be overcome, I have proposed that the rules committee recommends to the council that the City of Cape Town awards the freedom of the city to the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, and the First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama.”

The multiparty rules committee was to discuss the proposal this morning and make recommendations to the council for adoption through a vote on May 28.

De Lille said the city had already informed the Obamas and that the White House had confirmed in writing that the president and the first lady were thrilled and would accept the award.

She said bestowing the award on the Obamas would also boost the city’s international image.

 

Tony Ehrenreich, leader of the opposition ANC in council and Cosatu provincial secretary, slammed De Lille for making the announcement a day before the matter went before the city’s rules committee.

“If the city wants to bestow a big award like this on anyone, it has to be discussed with all parties in council before it is communicated publicly,” Ehrenreich said. “We cannot condone the way in which the announcement was made. It was a PR gimmick. I believe Capetonians also need to have a say in who is granted the freedom of the city. There was no consultation.”

Ehrenreich said he had no problem with bestowing the city’s highest award on the Obamas, but felt that the correct processes were not followed.

“I will write to unions in the States to ask them to speak to Obama about what is happening in Cape Town. Before he accepts the award, Obama must get the mayor to deal with racism and racial issues in the city and the problems facing thousands in Sir Lowry’s Pass Village and other parts of the city,” he said.

De Lille hit back, saying: “That’s a typical preposterous reaction (by Ehrenreich).”

The mayor can make a proposal for any “person of distinction” to receive the award.

Should the council approve the proposal, city officials and White House staff will arrange whether the Obamas will receive the award in Cape Town or whether a ceremony would be held in Washington.

Some Cape Argus readers have tweeted their indignation.

@dreamworkerZA tweeted: “Pathetic. There r more deserving S Africans”, while another said “Pure PR exercise”. At the other extreme, @Alettaha tweeted: “Awesome.”

Living freemen of the city include former president Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and former UWC vice-chancellor Richard van der Ross.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Have your Say

 

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Victim tells of horror attack on freeway

Crash victims on the R300 freeway are being targeted by criminals and some say the accidents were caused deliberately.

Paramedics have told the Cape Times that injured motorists are robbed and their cars stripped.

In one of the most extreme cases, 27-year-old Claudia Dalias swerved to avoid a pedestrian, was flung through her car’s windscreen and while she was lying seriously injured, scores of looters emptied her car of all her belongings and stole parts of it.

Both Dalias’s legs were crushed, both lungs were punctured, she had broken ribs, a 15cm cut across her scalp and a 6cm gash on her face.

She believes her accident was intentionally caused so that she could be robbed.

Last week, speaking minutes after standing up for the first time with a prosthetic leg and taking her first few steps since the December 2 crash, Dalias had this warning to motorists planning to use the R300: “Avoid it as much as possible.”

IOL  ct car300 (25335630) (25342710)The wreckage of the car Claudia Dalias was driving on the R300.

CAPE TIMES

She said the accident had made her determined to try to improve road safety and hoped speaking out would prevent similar incidents occurring.

Police who were at the accident scene told Dalias that more than 50 people had stormed her car after the crash.

 

“A detective did say he knows they do it on purpose, especially over the Christmas season,” she said.

Five years ago the R300, which is about 15km long and is a major link between the N1 and N2, was named the most dangerous road by metro police because of the high accident and crime rate.

It is still a crime hot spot.

Provincial traffic spokesman Jacques Mostert told the Cape Times the R300 was dangerous.

Asked whe ther accidents had been intentionally caused by criminals, he responded: “We have claims; however (we) cannot verify that this is the actual cause for accidents.”

Police spokesman Andre Traut said criminals would use any means to stop a car.

On Monday, mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said that based on CCTV footage from cameras along the R300, he had not spotted any crime trends.

But he said isolated incidents could occur.

At least three paramedics told the Cape Times that it was not unusual for criminals to purposely cause an accident so they could rob the victim.

A paramedic, who declined to be named, told the Cape Times that criminals were known to target motorists on roads alongside informal settlements, in some case throwing rocks at windscreens or physically obstructing cars.

“It’s heartbreaking when a patient asks you to call their mom from their cellphone. And you have to tell them: ‘No, your phone and everything is stolen’,” he said.

Describing her accident, Dalias, a brand-builder for Edward Snell and Co, said that she was about 500m from the Stellenbosch Arterial off-ramp, when she swerved to avoid the pedestrian.

“I was flung out of the vehicle through the front window as I was not wearing a safety belt. However, police stated I would have been crushed in the vehicle (had I been wearing one),” Dalias said.

Her car was looted while paramedics tended to her. Items stolen included cases of alcohol meant to be delivered to clients, CDs, a laptop, clothing, her handbag and car parts.

Dalias spent 31 days in an intensive care unit, half the time in a coma.

Her right leg was amputated at the knee and she had extensive surgery on her left leg.

Dalias underwent 20 operations and more are planned.

“Now the battle to raise funds starts, to pay for further prosthetics that I will need as I get older.”

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Have your Say

 

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