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Teen’s rescue sparks spiked drinks warning

By Helen Bamford Time of article published May 3, 2016

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Cape Town - A Cape Town man has warned of the potential danger of drinks being spiked at clubs and pubs in the city centre after friends found a young woman barely conscious with the top half of her body naked, walking with three men she didn’t know, in Loop street.

Jared Naidoo said his friends managed to get the young woman away from the men who had initially become aggressive, but then left.

He said when he arrived just after 10 on the night before Freedom Day, the young woman, who looked about 19, was lying on the side of the pavement in Loop street, unconscious and throwing up.

It wasn’t clear whether she had just drunk too much or had her drinks spiked.

Naidoo said that when paramedics arrived, they put her in an ambulance to be checked.

He said the medic told them he could barely smell alcohol on her, or not enough to warrant that type of intoxication.

Last year, on the blog “Cape Town Etc”, Justin Williams, referring to safety in Long Street, wrote: “Just recently, I heard a story of a girl who drank beyond her limit at a club in Long Street. A couple, who are friends of mine, noticed her in a very unsober state and tried to help establish who she arrived with and how she planned on getting home that night.

“As they all walked out of the club, a group of five men approached the couple and girl and offered them money if they could take the girl home with them after noticing her in her state.

“I find this absolutely sickening and the entire situation worrying. She got home safely that night.”

With reference to the incident in Loop Street last week, Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) safety and security manager, Muneeb Hendricks, said the CCID had been called to the scene by pedestrians who found the young woman unconscious, and it was their officers who had called for medical assistance from Metro EMS.

Hendricks said they had not received any reports of incidents of drinks being spiked, nor had there been any confirmation that this is what happened in this instance.

“There has been no reporting of spiking of drinks either via our own incident reporting system or via the reports we receive from SAPS.”

But he said that, like anywhere in the world where there were clubs and bars, it was inevitable that some youngsters drank too much.

Mischa Blecher, project manager of the Long Street Association, said drink-spiking did occasionally happen, but was in no way unique to the CBD and is a city-wide phenomenon.

“The Long Street Association (LSA) is concerned with public safety, specifically in Long Street. The spiking of drinks usually occurs inside venues, which is out of the realm of our security personnel.”

But Blecher added that the central city was, contrary to public perception, remarkably safe at night.

“This is continuously backed up by crime statistics taken from SAPS and the CCID. People over the age of 18, if they are keen, should definitely be partying in Long Street and the surrounds.

“They should do so with appropriate caution which I think is exercised by most South Africans, given our country’s high crime rate.”

Hendricks said CCID officers tried to assist by calling taxis, escorting people to where they needed to go and, even on occasion, calling parents to collect their children.

He added that Long Street and the surrounding streets hadrecorded their safest festive season in a decade.

“This is largely due to the joint partnerships that were put in place by City Law Enforcement, the CCID and the Long Street Business Association, which saw an additional 10 law enforcement officers deployed in the area until the end of March.”

He said there were now an additional six security officers in place, paid for by the Long Street Business Association.

Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said they were looking to provide an additional 10 officers in the coming months.

He said the CCTV network in the area also had a positive impact, both in terms of preventing crime and with catching suspects.

Smith added, however, that the city law enforcement presence in the area was comparatively limited when compared with the police.

“SAPS have more officers working from the Cape Town Police Station than the City has metro police in the entire city,” Smith said.

“Furthermore, in terms of the impact of crime, there are other areas in the City far worse affected, and as such are prioritised in terms of police presence.”

Cape Argus

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