At the beginning of May, MID Chair Marion Wagner took time out to speak to a group of residents at Eventide about personal safety in Muizenberg and managing security challenges. Eventide faces onto Atlantic Road in Muizenberg and residents therefore experience firsthand the challenges of homelessness, informal car guards, vagrants and day strollers / children that can be found in this road. Marion empathized about the concerns raised such as noise late at night, the mess on the pavements, open defecation, drunken behavior and begging. She explained that this is a social concern not unique to Muizenberg and one that all parties are working to address.

Marion stressed that it is important to realise what a diverse group of people frequent the area, and referred to some of the homeless who have been living in Muizenberg for ten or more years. On the other hand, some aren’t necessarily homeless, but reside on the streets of Muizenberg for economic opportunities such as informal car guarding and involvement in criminal activity. In addition to this, some destitute people are also faced with extreme challenges such as needing addiction support or physical or mental health service intervention. And adding to these concerns are the lack of access to sufficient public toilets, with none being open at night. Also, actions by well-meaning individuals handing out food has led to many of the street people congregating in Atlantic Road.

Then there are the younger children – often referred to as day strollers who come to the village from Vrygrond or Capricorn to beg, and often to also escape the poverty and social ills within their own communities.

In addition, other activities undertaken by SAPS on clearing the Battlefield Site and Diamante Building recently has also led to more people sleeping along Atlantic Road.

The following measures are recommended, should you feel vulnerable:

  • Be polite and look strangers in the eye – we are often tempted to look away, but looking a stranger in the eye tells that person that you see them and have compassion and if they are intentions are bad, that you have noted them and may remember what they look like later – it shows you are aware. If someone has malicious intent, just this one small measure may be a deterrent to committing a crime.
  • As a general rule, don’t engage with strangers – not knowing a person’s background, it could be unwise to engage further than a simple greeting – the person may be lovely, or they may be a criminal
  • Never give handouts – handouts don’t help in the short term or the long term. There are many other positive ways to help, for example by donating to MID and other local organizations who work with the homeless in our area.
  • Be aware of your surroundings – there is a very useful article on local neighbourhood watch MCSI’s website entitled Look up, look around, look out – it’s worth a read as it steps you through how to actually do this in a very positive way. Any display of valuables should be avoided.
  • Phone MID Public Safety – on 060 850 6260 if you notice any activity that concerns you, or you feel unsafe. The MID Public Safety team responds to over 300 incidents a month on average and are available to assist if you feel threatened by anyone while out and about.
  • Always report crime to SAPS – in person is best, or on 021 787 9000 – it is important in the big picture of crime-fighting in our area that every crime is reported: this ultimately enables SAPS to get more resources for Muizenberg and also sends a message to the City that more intervention is required. If help is required, please contact the MID Public Safety Officer.
  • For any by-law infringements such as shelters being erected, pavements blocked, unruly behavior, fighting, loud noise late at night, call Law Enforcement on 021 596 1999.
  • The City of Cape Town Street People Unit has a toll-free number to report concerns to the on 0800 872 201. Obtain a reference number for every call.
  • MID Social Worker, Marion Thomas, is available to talk to at the Clinic Office every Thursday from 09:00 – 13:00 on a first come first serve basis. This service is open to anyone who needs social work assistance even though the key focus is on support services for the homeless who requires assistance with counselling, shelter, application for grants, etc.
  • Join the local neighbourhood watch MCSI – they have a community WhatsApp alert group for notifying members of potentially dangerous situations and it can also be used to call for help – MID Public Safety is on this group as well.

The first steps to personal safety are to be aware and be prepared. Don’t put yourself at risk, don’t intervene if there are any fights and don’t display valuables.

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.