Crime levels in Hout Bay, already at an all-time low before lockdown, has decreased even further during this time and has been welcomed by the local community police forum (CPF).
Anthony Chemaly, chairperson of Hout Bay CPF, said collective efforts between the CPF, Hout Bay police and other security role-players resulted in Hout Bay’s reduced crime rate. “Post lockdown, we have seen a further large reduction in crime with very low case numbers comparatively to the year before,” he said.
During the start of lockdown, police made five arrests for theft, two for drinking and driving, 15 for possession of stolen property, five for common assault, two for assault with the intention of causing grievous bodily harm, 49 for contravening the Disaster Management Act regulations, one each for attempted armed robbery, house break-in and theft as well as for drug-related crime. Nine vehicle control checkpoints were set up, resulting in 350 vehicles being stopped and fines to the amount of R101 200 being handed out.
Mr Chemaly said, however, that during the past two weeks, they have had a couple of house robberies and urged residents to be more vigilant around Hout Bay.
“There has been a rise in domestic violence due to lockdown, but comparatively, we are quite low for the Western Cape,” Mr Chemaly said.
While locals were relieved to hear about the decreased crime levels, there were still concerns about the crime situation once lockdown regulations have been lifted.
Hermanus O’Neil from Hout Bay said many would be struggling financially and it could lead to further crimes being committed. “I do not wish for it to happen, but when people are cornered and have nowhere to turn to, crime is usually the first thing they resort to,” Mr O’Neil said.
He commended police and all other security role-players for their efforts during lockdown, but more importantly, highlighted the efforts before lockdown.
“The real shift was put in before the lockdown already, so when it finally arrived, it (crime levels) could only go one way and that takes some doing,” Mr O’Neil said.
Another resident, Charmaine Larsson, echoed Mr O’Neil’s sentiments, but also paid tribute to the many security role-players and residents contributing towards the success of the crime levels.
“It’s a collective effort from everybody in the community. We are heading into quite a difficult period now for all our people and we need to support each during this time,” she said.
Prior to lockdown, Hout Bay was experiencing a very quiet month of March, with no house robberies reported.
However, Liezl Schulte, chairperson of Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch (HBNW), said crime in April picked up, with attempted break-ins followed by three house robberies – two of which were during the day – during the first half of April.
Despite HBNW patrollers not being allowed to patrol during the lockdown period, HBNW continued to deliver the communication infrastructure and network across Hout Bay which first responders use every day. HBNW also continues to update its website on a daily basis with information about safety, security and Covid-19.
“We would like to remind all residents to remain vigilant at all times while at home and to remember to put alarm and beams on at night,” Ms Schulte said.
Selected members of the HBNW have volunteered as disaster risk management volunteers who can be deployed if needed in the weeks to come, while their radio network, HBNW-funded cameras set up in public spaces and Watchcon, the Hout Bay and Llandudno Community Safety Information Centre (CSIC), are available 24/7 to co-ordinate any response and resource required.
“Our partner, Fidelity ADT continues to invest on a monthly basis, by contributing R70 000 to HBNW which enables us to contract CCP (Community Crime Prevention a 24-hour community response team responding to all emergencies and calls for help) to operationally run Watchcon for us,” Ms Schulte said.
“All of these are essential to support those on the front line and we would like to ask all members to continue to support HBNW so that we can maintain all of these services.”
Sentinel News attempted to get comment from Hout Bay police station, but our queries went unanswered at the time of going to print.