July was a concerning month for public safety, with five muggings in the MID area. This excludes the muggings that took place outside the MID boundary at Sunrise Circle and on the catwalk from Muizenberg Beach to St James. It’s a sobering thought and a warning to all of us to be vigilant when out walking or commuting to and from work.

It’s also a call to action to support your local neighbourhood watch, Muizenberg Community Safety Initiative – whether it’s by putting in time as a patroller or one of the many support functions, or by contributing financially. MID Public Safety and GRIT are keen to collaborate with the community to tackle these safety issues.

These incidents also provide some interesting insights into the role of the public safety officer – we typically think of these officers patrolling in the dark hours, facing down criminals or would-be criminals, and we visualize them in their “tough-guy” mode. But we forget that they also encounter the victims of crime on a daily basis, and then they need a completely different set of skills: compassion, understanding, patience.

MID Manager, Chevone Petersen, was particularly impressed with these skills recently: she came across a woman in distress outside Primi Piatti on the beachfront. A Securitas Officer, Sonwabo, was trying to assist her, but they weren’t sure what was causing the distress: she seemed extremely anxious and confused and frightened. An ambulance was called for, but the wait was very long. Says Chevone “She showed fear towards crowds and males, but Sonwabo made her feel safe – he held both her hands to which she clung! He fetched water for her twice while I tried to reach her family (unfortunately not available) and spoke to her”.

Having realized that the ambulance was not going to arrive anytime soon, Chevone asked MID Public Safety to assist. Officer Zulu arrived and took her up to SAPS. Chevone takes up the story again “I met them at SAPS and together we took her into the police station and requested that she be assisted by the Trauma Counsellor. While I spoke to SAPS, Zulu held her hand and comforted her. We then took her to the Victim Support Room, where she again became extremely anxious and confused. Throughout this Zulu remained calm and compassionate”.

The empathy and professionalism that both officers displayed throughout this time was of immense value to making a difference in this woman’s life.

Sometimes this job is about keeping us safe, but at other times it’s about helping us to feel safe after a traumatic experience.

Hats off to these two officers for their exceptional commitment and compassion in this situation, it’s nice to know such caring people are watching out for us!

About MID:

The Muizenberg Improvement District [MID] is a geographic area where property owners have contracted to pay a levy to facilitate a joint effort by the City of Cape Town and the local community to ensure more effective management of public areas and to promote business confidence.The MID supplements normal municipal services provided by the City, using its funds to deal with public safety, enhance the environment and address social issues like vagrancy and finding workable solutions for the homeless. The Muizenberg Improvement District is a legal entity established under the City’s Special Rating Areas by-law and also governed by the South African Companies Act 2008.

Enquiries: manager@mid.org.za