Kirstenhof police brace for festive season

Kirstenhof police and community police forum members gathered at the American International School of Cape Town for the CPF’s annual general meeting. Picture: Janice Matthews

Kirstenhof police and community police forum members are ramping up operations in preparation for the festive season.

These plans were discussed and report backs on the year were given by police and forum members at the CPF’s annual general meeting on Tuesday evening November 21 at the American International School of Cape Town.

According to Kirstenhof police chief Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Jones, the station’s festive-season plan, which was launched in October, includes extra operations with other law-enforcement agencies and awareness drives about abuse, domestic violence, at-risk youth, holiday safety and other issues.

“With the holiday season, comes an influx of patrons and holidaymakers, and we are again appealing to our external role-players for assistance in making sure that we have yet another successful safe festive season. The safety and security of our residents, businesses and visitors remain paramount, and every aspect of decision-making and planning is centred on this important aspect.”

Kirstenhof CPF chairman Geoff Bettison said more regular patrols would take place around shopping malls and the Tokai lower forest area during the festive season.

“Due to the higher unemployment and social inequality levels, we can expect that our crime levels could increase, which is of concern going forward,” Mr Bettison said.

Reflecting on overall crime in 2023, the chairman said the precinct’s crime had remained relatively low, but SAPS staff shortage remained a challenge. The station had filled vital roles in October, gaining both a visible-policing commander and head of detectives, but it was still short of 14 staff members.

Mr Bettison said the CPF had appealed to the provincial commissioner’s office to allow for detectives to be stationed once again at Kirstenhof; to increase the station’s perimeter security and the area for taking private statements; and to upgrade the holding cells.

Detectives were currently stationed a distance away from Kirstenhof SAPS in the Retreat industrial area, which was not always easy for complainants to get to after reporting crimes at Kirstenhof, Mr Bettison said.

Warrant Officer Reece Harvey said that while property-related crimes had dropped, many cases, such as thefts out of vehicles, were preventable.

“While theft out of motor vehicles has decreased by 8%, if one looks at the amount of cases where people have left items in the car – and the things that are stolen out of a car are laptops, money, a firearm – those are things that shouldn’t be left in a car.”

CPF secretary Sandy Graham, who coordinates the victim-support programme, said they had counselled or debriefed 240 crime victims – down from 273 the previous year – and most had been seen at Kirstenhof with some at Westlake and a few at Retreat railway police.

Stats were based on the number of victims they had seen and not on the number of cases opened, she said.

“For incidents of robbery, armed robbery, burglary and housebreaking, 26 victims were counselled, down from 36 in the previous year. Counselling for domestic violence and family interventions went up from 35 to 58 victims. For incidences of sexual assault and rape, 16 victims were counselled, up from 11 the previous year.

“We are a referral agency for the forensic department of Victoria Hospital so not all referrals came through the station, and not all victims we saw wanted to lay cases. Some victims had their cases withdrawn due to insufficient evidence. Sadly, some come to report after weeks of trauma and deliberations,” Ms Graham said.