Project focuses on hot spots to curb crime

Operational commander, Senior Inspector Linda Gantsho with mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, JP Smith.

The City of Cape Town says the facilities protection pilot project to curb vandalism and theft at 10 council facilities, has provided the blueprint for the expansion of the project in hot spots across Cape Town.

The City of Cape Town is intending to more than double the resources allocated to its facility protection officers (FPOs) initiative. The initial deployment will be at 32 identified facilities in Ocean View, Seawinds, Manenberg, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Philippi, Delft, Khayelitsha, Langa, Mitchell’s Plain, Uitsig, Atlantis and Wallacedene.

The programme was piloted in Nyanga and Gugulethu earlier this year, with the appointment of 50 local neighbourhood watch members as facility wardens, and eight auxiliary law enforcement officers, to patrol and protect sports complexes and community centres. They work under the leadership of operational commander, Senior Inspector Linda Gantsho.

The FPOs made 13 arrests, issued 479 fines, confiscated 2 200 counterfeit DVDs/CDs and even impounded a truck for illegal dumping.

“The statistics are all the motivation we need to expand this programme to other areas. Not only do we safeguard our facilities for the enjoyment of the communities they serve, but we also provide employment and an economic injection into these same communities,” said the City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, JP Smith.

“The facility protection officers also offer another layer of visible policing as their patrols and powers are not limited to the sports fields and libraries they are employed to protect,” he said.

The City has dedicated a
R20 million budget for the programme for this financial year for salaries, four weeks of training for each recruit, equipment and vehicles. The number of staff will increase from the initial 58 to 224, comprising 64 auxiliary law enforcement officers as shift leaders and 160 facility wardens.

The brief will also be expanded to include other City facilities like libraries and clinics. Some of the FPO’s responsibilities include facility inspections; reporting building defects; foot and vehicle patrols; community awareness and intelligence gathering on illegal bucket shops, drug activity and general crime concerns; assistance with crowd control, and deployment at pools over the festive season.

“The continued success of this programme will rely heavily on the level of community involvement. Many communities would be all too familiar with a clinic, library or community centre being closed as a result of vandalism or theft, robbing them of crucial services,” Mr Smith said.

“The culprits are seldom outsiders. The FPOs are there to reduce the risk and so it is in the best interests of residents to support this endeavour, and
help us bring criminals to book. We’re building safer communities – while at the same time impr-
oving the economic fortunes of hundreds of people by providing work opportunities,” Mr Smith said.