While the festive season is met with great excitement by holiday makers, businesses throughout the country become the targets of criminals. This year, local crime prevention NPO, Business against Crime in the Western Cape, is urging all businesses to be proactive and exhaust all avenues to combat the scourge of crime during the festive season.
Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat, CEO of Business Against crime in the Western Cape, Andrew Anthony explains that the NPO was established by business in 1996 in response to a call by the then president, Nelson Mandela, and was subsequently extended to all provinces.
He says that the Western Cape branch is governed by its own board, but works within an agreement between itself and the national body.
“Our mission is to partner with government against crime, specifically in Western Cape, so we are governments primary strategic partner in leveraging a sustainable and substantial reduction in crime to sustain a safe and secure Western Cape,” he noted.
The organisation has established seven programmes that it runs in conjunction with business and the South African Police Service (SAPS).
Given the fact that statistics reflecting businesses impacted by crime are not readily available, Anthony says that micro-enterprises to a large extent have not mobilized against crime nor have they formed crime monitoring agencies, which has impacted the accuracy of statistics.
With regards to preventative measures, Anthony asserts that while bigger businesses, such as supermarkets, have access to resources to facilitate safety measures, crime is consequently deflected to smaller businesses, which do not have access to effective safety systems.
“They should work more closely with local SAPS and should form local business anti-crime forums through which they can speak to each other about what is happing in their neighbourhoods and address the concerns.”
He encourages microbusinesses to form Whatsapp groups in order to facilitate effective communication between local businesses, which he says will assists in monitoring the prevalence of crime within communities, as well as monitor unfamiliar individuals who enter and exit neighbourhoods.
“Before robbers rob you, they have to do stealth operations and monitor how the business works and what the routine is. So, ask any unknown person in the vicinity what they are doing there, that’s how you get rid of them,” he elaborated.
Since staff members are often the victims of crime, closing and opening businesses during quiet periods, Anthony encourages staff not to be ‘heroes’ and not to resist, but instead do as the robbers instruct.
“While the robbery is in the process, do not press the alarm and do not look the robbers in their faces. But give them time to get away. Bottom line, don’t be a hero, because in the past people who try to be heroes end up getting shot.”
He further urges all customers to businesses to report any suspicious persons to security guards or to the nearest SAPS.