The mayor of Cape Town wants tough safety regulations

In order to keep tourists safe while international tourism recovers from the Covid-19 outbreak, the City of Cape Town plans to increase the number of police officers in its busiest neighborhoods and use drones to scan famous hiking trails.

Following the relaxation of pandemic-related restrictions, Cape Town is attempting to take advantage of the uptick in international tourism. But in order to win back the favor of foreign visitors, the City will need to solve major security issues that are still impeding the development of South Africa’s tourism industry as a whole.

After sudden flight cancellations and frequent border restrictions for more than two years, international visitors are gradually making their way back to South Africa. In terms of international arrivals, Cape Town’s recovery is outpacing Johannesburg’s thanks to airlines in major source markets significantly increasing the number of flights to the Mother City.

Cape Town is preparing to receive a wave of international visitors this coming summer. According to the most recent annual report released by the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) on Wednesday, its capacity to accommodate these arrivals has also grown over the past year.

According to the State of Cape Town Central City Report, a total of 28 real estate projects were completed in 2021, with 13 of those projects totaling more than R2.5 billion in finished developments or redevelopments. Of these 13, five are hotels or aparthotels in the heart of the city.

Geordin Hill-Lewis, the mayor of Cape Town, said during the presentation of the CCID’s most recent report that drawing more foreign visitors to the Mother City and their high daily spending rates remains a top priority. Hill-Lewis emphasized that the safety of visitors to the city would be prioritized by sharing a recent personal experience with distressed travelers.

“This weekend, we did have a Finnish couple [that were] robbed in the Bo-Kaap and I managed, through our tourism office, to track down the number of that couple and phone them personally,” explained Hill-Lewis.

“We’re going to increase our deployment [of law enforcement officers], I want to make that commitment today. In the tourist hotspots, like the Bo-Kaap, like the Green Point park, and Sea Point pavilion, we’re going to have to do a focused tourism law enforcement deployment over the peak season… and we are going to do that.”

Following the introduction of 100 officers to Cape Town’s Central Business District, Hill-Lewis has pledged to deploy additional law enforcement to protect tourists (CBD). The Grand Parade, Station Deck, St. Georges Mall, and Long Street are just a few of the crime-ridden places where these cops have been stationed.

Hill-Lewis stated that after getting the financing for the cars and accompanying equipment, the finer details of the deployment of additional law enforcement officers to tourist areas would be announced: “in the coming weeks.”

Boots on the ground are only one of Hill-Lewis’ methods for lowering crime in and around the CBD of Cape Town. The City will also rely more on technology to combat crime and maintain local residents’ safety as well as that of foreign tourists.

“We’re also making some exciting tech investments, from drone technology and aerial surveillance above the skies of the city,” said Hill-Lewis.

“We’re dedicating some of that aerial surveillance time to the mountain paths and the hiking trails on Table Mountain, so that we can keep, again, tourists and hikers and residents safer there. That technology has the potential to make a really meaningful difference, to get high resolution, high-definition camera eyes on any scene inside the city within minutes.”We can be basically anywhere with four or five minutes, giving our commanding officers on the ground much better intel.”

Hill-Lewis spoke to the entire council on Thursday. He stated that they had written to Police Minister Bheki Cele to ask him to use a constitutionally guaranteed power to provide the City police authority. “Let me be clear about what we want: we want our own, fully-fledged City police force, with all the powers it needs to drastically reduce crime in Cape Town. And, if the minister is not prepared to give us the powers we seek, we will fight tooth and nail to get it. We owe it to the millions of people in this City, who live in fear of crime,” he said.

Hill-Lewis claimed that Cape Town was in a desperate situation where the South African Police Service was chronically under-resourced in both the province and the city, in addition to a lack of police leadership at the national level.

The City will establish an 80-officer Facility Protection Unit in the next months to defend important municipal structures against damage and staff members against violent assaults. The City’s 24-hour Highway Patrol Unit will shortly begin providing traffic services. This division will enhance traffic management, lower fatalities, and uphold law and order on the highways.

Cele criticized the Western Cape government for requesting the devolution of policing authority earlier this month. Cele, addressing Cosatu members during strike action, said: “This province is making a lot of noise about the devolution of powers… for one, Cele [referring to himself] has no power over devolution; that is a constitutional matter. Anyone who wants anything changed must go to the Constitutional Court.” In comparison to other provinces, according to Cele, the Western Cape has the most police resources. Hill-Lewis referred to this as “nonsense.”

“Section 99 of the Constitution provides that a Cabinet member may assign any power or function…to a municipal council’. Accordingly, I have written to the minister to request that he uses his constitutionally-enshrined power to give us the policing powers we need,” he said.

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