Cape Town - Gun-wielding robbers are terrorising eateries in Claremont, with restaurants and their patrons being robbed of cash and personal belongings more than once.
This after two incidents at the Oblivion Restaurant and the Village Bicycle where robbers struck last month, with claims that the easing of the lockdown was behind the recent spike in robberies.
The owner of Oblivion, who did not want to be named, said last week’s incident was “very quick, calm and controlled”.
She said the robbers fled with cellphones and a laptop. According to her, the police’s response time was good, but they needed to up their game when it came to prevention.
“The police must be visible, and the CCTV cameras must be linked directly to a unit or a response team, and that could help a lot. And I don’t feel much more information was shared with the businesses.”
Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said he noted with concern the increase in attacks on businesses, including kidnappings and extortion.
Fritz said it was part of the after-effects of Covid-19 and the hard lockdowns, where criminal syndicates had been forced to move out of their traditional areas of operation.
“We will ask the police to include the Claremont area into the scope of investigations on extortion. These attacks on businesses represent attacks on the livelihoods of many of our citizens, and we cannot allow criminals to continue with impunity,” he said.
Claremont police station commander Maree Louw said business robberies in the area were sporadic and were not continuous.
“Some months we have one, and some we have two, and were not more than two in a month,” said Louw.
She said most of the criminals were not coming from their area.
“They were coming from areas such as Hanover Park. However, we have good partnership with the stakeholders in the area, who have been eyes and ears, that assisted us,” she said.
Claremont Improvement District Company (CIDC) executive manager Abdul Kerbelker said crime in the footprint of the CIDC was at a historic low, and the two business robberies he knew of took place outside the CIDC.
However, he said as the lockdown eased, crime had picked up a little bit, but generally all the categories were low.
“I know this because we do some crime monitoring of our own in the CIDC. So, initially the focus under the more severe lockdown was looking after business premises and compliance with lockdown rules,” said Kerbelker.
Kerbelker said as the lockdown eased they had found crime generated through aggressive begging had increased. He said they had strategies in place, which included visible patrols in the area at least five to six times a week.
“We also have a partnership with the Department of Community Safety and Safety ambassadors within the area, and we also have very good communication with the police,” he said.