In response to the lack of action adopted by the City of Cape Town to combat criminal activity in trading areas within the CBD, traders are now taking a proactive stance in the fight against crime. Following an incident on Saturday, in which a trader was arrested for confronting a drug dealer, traders have revitalized their call to premier Helen Zille to assist in combating the continued scourge of drugs and criminal activity on the Cape Town Station Deck and the Grand Parade. At least 500 traders took to the streets of Cape Town on July 13, 2016, as part of a country-wide protest in which traders voiced their concerns as informal sector workers. While traders gave the premier a stipulated one month to reply, Zille has yet to respond to their demands and concerns.
Speaking on VOC’s Breakfast Beat Show, acting president of South African Informal Traders Alliance (Saita) and Pro Western Cape Informal Traders Coalition (WCITC) Rosheda Muller explains that given the fact that traders largely operate on the Grand Parade and on the Cape Town Station deck, crime has proven to be a major concern for those making living.
“The Grand Parade and Cape Town Station are in the heart of the CBD, but yet shoppers are not going there, because these areas are termed [crime] hot-spots,” she stated.
On Saturday approximately 40 traders marched to Caledon square, where one trader was being arrested for “taking the law into his own hands.”
According to Muller, the incident ensued when one trader decided to intervene in a drug sale, after which a scuffle broke out leading to the arrest of the trader.
Muller confirmed that after engagement between the leadership of the station deck and the prosecutor, the trader was later released without having to spend time in police custody and the case was subsequently thrown out.
“We as Saita and WCITC do not condone violence and vigilantism, but if drug trade is [conducted] in the open on the [station] deck, people don’t want to stop at our shops, but instead rush through.”
Muller said many individuals who are purchasing drugs on the station deck are young children and students.
In response to the level of crime within the trading areas, Muller explains that traders have taken decisive action by keeping whistles on them in order to call attention to any criminal activity or drug dealing that occurs within their vicinity.
“You must remember that many of these traders are women – older women, who have been there for about thirty years. So, when drug dealing happens, they are aggravated and confront these drug dealers and conflict arises,” she added.
She said law enforcement and government officials have not realised the magnitude of drug-trade and crime on the station deck and, therefore, calls on authorities to adopt a proactive stance and clamp-down on criminals.
“Our system fails us, because these drug dealers are arrested, but hours or days later they are back on route. So, there is no real will by authorities, but yet at government level [traders] are seen as the future of the South African economy.”
Muller encourages all stakeholders and the community at large to assist traders in their fight against criminal activity within their business areas by calling attention to the impact of crime within the country.
“We need the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, the South African Police Service, the City of Cape Town, People against Gangsterism and Drugs, and the community at large to make a concerted effort to rid ourselves of this scourge,” Muller continued.
The City of Cape Town’s Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith said they were engaging role-players.
“It’s not the just the complaint, this also relates to the fact that criminals are being able to conduct business for a long time without a conviction. These matters are firmly in the domain of the justice system. It’s neither the City nor the Province that has control over this. So we need to get the conviction rates up.”
VOC (Thakira Desai)