Cape Town - Business in the city’s major party hub, Long Street, has surged, with owners attributing the positive gains, in part, to beefed-up security.
During the festive season thousands of patrons flocked to the landmark street’s clubs, pubs and restaurants, where they were safeguarded by 10 additional law enforcement officers.
Bob’s Bar in Long Street did booming trade and experienced a 40 percent increase in sales compared to the previous December with more than 700 patrons visiting the bar on New Year’s Eve.
Owner John Davidson said when he took over the business five years ago the top floor of the building had been used for prostitution and drug peddling.
To counter pickpocketing and theft, drug peddling and illegal taxis the Long Street Association, comprising 13 businesses, the Central City Improvement District (CCID) and the city deployed an extra 10 law enforcement auxiliary service officers to patrol the area.
“We started talking about the initiative four to five months ago and our vision came to fruition at the beginning of December. The businesses involved in the initiative pay a combined R60 000 a month for the service.”
Davidson said the officers were deployed on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9pm to 5am. “Their presence has really brought crime down and is really making a big difference. It has yielded massive changes.”
Marius Barnard, manager of Long Street Backpackers, said they made R30 000 in December, a marked improvement over the same period the previous year. “We can sleep 87 people at the backpackers and at the moment there are about 60 people here.”
Barnard criticised previous years’ policing in Long Street on New Year’s Eve as “pretty useless” since pickpockets freely plied their trade.
“A lot of the tourists who come here have travelled to other places like Indonesia, Thailand and China and are street-smart enough not put themselves in a vulnerable position making them susceptible to thieves.”
He said most of the tourists who stay at the backpackers were from Germany, the US, Britain and Israel.
JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said businesses had the option of using the services of full-time law enforcement officers or auxiliary service officers.
“The city stepped up patrols in all areas over the festive season. Long Street and the rest of the CBD was no exception, particularly over the New Year’s weekend when we had both New Year’s Eve celebrations and the Minstrel Carnival. Long Street was closed to vehicular traffic on New Year’s Eve to enhance public safety.
“In addition to foot and vehicle patrols, we do remote monitoring through the Metro Police CCTV control room, the rent-a-cops offer additional cover and we also work closely with the Central City Improvement District.”
Mo Hendricks, manager of safety and security for the CCID, said the law enforcement officers have “full peace officer status” which means they have the powers of search and seizure and can enforce all city by-laws through the issuing of fines and also police non-moving traffic violations.
Hendricks said the CCID would employ an additional 11 of its public safety officers on night shift from Wednesdays to Saturdays to deal with the influx of revellers.