A group of homeless people gather outside the SA Human Rights Commission to voice grievances over access to public facilities. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The continued influx of economically depressed people to the city centre is putting enormous strain on the Cape Town Central Improvement District (CCID), with the company finding it difficult to meet its mandate of keeping the CBD safe, clean and attractive to investors.

CCID chief executive Tasso Evangelinos said: “While we have always operated in an ever-evolving central city, in the year under review this environment was shaped by harsh economic realities that presented more challenges than rewards.”

Evangelinos said the tight economy had pushed the CCID to its limits, and it had become more difficult for the company to meet the increasing demands of a lively, dynamic city centre that operated 24/7.

“During the year under review, there were a spate of armed robberies in the CBD. There was also an increase in petty crime. To enhance its presence and prioritise safety, our Safety and Security department increased the number of Public Safety Officers operating in the CBD to 300, and the number of CCID-funded law enforcement officers to 20,” he said.

CCID chairperson Rob Kane said that the year in review had been an incredibly difficult one.

“Conditions on the ground had changed substantially, and the CCID had found it increasingly challenging to deliver on its mandate. If we don’t keep the CBD running well, property investors will move elsewhere and that 18% growth will just not happen,” Kane said.

During the 2018-2019 financial year, the CCID made 745 arrests together with the CCID’s law enforcement partners, and issued 23 478 fines worth R14 million while 105624 crime prevention initiatives were conducted.

City Bowl ward councillor Dave Bryant, who also sits on the board of the CCID, said he was well aware of the challenges faced by the CCID.

“We have seen a lot more people moving to Cape Town over the past few years and along with that, many developments taking place in Cape Town CBD, and billions being invested in a relevant short space of time. This, of course, increased the pressures on the urban environment,” he said.

The CCID’s 2018/19 annual budget is over R60m (R60 624 218). The City was asked in March to support a 12.5% increase, which would include an annual inflationary increase which was approved. The bulk of the additional budget would be spent on the critical areas of safety and security, social development and urban management.

Bryant said with the mother City constantly hosting events such as the First Thursday events around town, and the night life buzzing in Long Street, Cape Town was rapidly changing.

“We are moving more towards a 24-hour city and we have to make sure that we cater for the changing environment I have met with the CCID earlier this year and Mayor Dan Plato committed to additional law enforcement,” he said.

Meanwhile, several homeless people had a meeting yesterday with the Human Rights Commission. They claim that their personal belongings are being illegally removed by the CCID, and have collected 309 signatures under the claim, “enough is enough”, asking law enforcement to stop arresting and intimidating them.

Documents delivered to the Human Rights Commission included copies of fines such as R300 for “sleeping overnight without city permission”.

A group of people gather outside the SA Human Rights Commission to voice grievances over access to public facilities. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Aswill Hermanus lives on the streets of Cape Town. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

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Cape Argus