With the most recent Muizenberg / St. James walkway attacks, the importance of reporting crime to SAPS and laying a charge has come to the fore once again. In an article published on IOL about the attacks recently, MCSI Chair Trevor Snyders was quoted as saying “A number of members have been attacked in the past but they refuse to lay charges with SAPS.” There are many reasons for this refusal, but a couple of the more disturbing ones that people cite are 1) the process was onerous and ineffective, or even worse 2) they were actively discouraged from laying a charge or 3) they were treated insensitively after being the victim of a crime.

There can be no question that reporting ALL crime to the police is a vital part of ensuring that SAPS receives information it can use in combatting crime, as well as ensuring that SAPS in our area continues to be allocated the resources that it needs to adequately deal with the crime levels in our area. And it is the duty of the police to allow you to report a crime and lay a charge.

While many people have positive experiences at Muizenberg SAPS, if you do have a negative experience for any reason it’s good to know that – rather than giving up – you have recourse.

Step 1 – keep track of your case details

When you have just been a victim of a crime you may not have all your wits about you. Therefore, if possible, ask a friend or family member to join you at the police station when reporting your crime – they’ll be able to track what is happening more calmly and also act as a witness if needs be. Always get the following information:

  • The name and rank of the officer(s) that spoke with you
  • A case reference number
  • The correct number to call to follow up on the case
  • Escalation numbers in case you need them – these are very clearly displayed on a whiteboard in the charge office (see recent picture below as an example)

A couple of days later, call to follow up on your case reference number – check that it has been captured onto the systems, find out if your case has been allocated, and get the name and the number of the person who will be dealing with it

It’s worth starting a diary of your case history: what happened and what you remember of the crime, the perpetrators, their clothing and shoes and distinguishing features, dates and times you reported the matter, who you spoke to and what they said, telephone follow-ups and their outcomes, and so on.

By following these steps, you will be well-prepared, both if the perpetrator of the crime is caught and your case goes to court OR if you experience problems with the handling of your report or your case.

Step 2 – escalation – Muizenberg SAPS

If you experience problems at the time of trying to report your case, or with the subsequent handling of it, you should first attempt to speak to the Station Commander. The name, rank, and telephone number of the current Station Commander will be clearly displayed in the charge office as described above. Like with any business, you are entitled to request an escalation up the management chain in order to try to resolve your issue at a more senior level.

Step 3 – escalation – Community organizations

If this fails, your local neighbourhood watch, MCSI, is a key starting point in the process. MCSI is linked in to the Community Police Forum, and meets regularly with our local SAPS, Law Enforcement and local security providers. Make sure you join up, and you will have an easy access point to escalating any issues. This may be a mention in the regular joint operations meetings, or a serious escalation to the Community Police Forum to handle. You can also escalate a complaint directly with our Community Police Forum here.

Step 4 – escalation – Provincial organizations

The Department of Community Safety complaints number is also prominently displayed in the Muizenberg SAPS charge office – 021 483 4332 – and this may be used as an alternative means to highlight any issues you are having.

If these measures fail, you can lodge a complaint with the Western Cape Police Ombudsman, whose role is to investigate complaints and problems, once all other channels have failed. Any individual or organization is entitled to lodge a complaint – you just have to visit https://www.westerncape.gov.za/police-ombudsman/ to kick off the process (click on the “Lodge complaint” link). This is where your diary of events may come in handy as you’ll be asked for basic details of why you are lodging the complaint, names and addresses of people can provide additional information about the complaint, and an overview of what you have done so far to resolve the issue.

Hopefully in most cases you will not have to take things as far as Step 4!

However, although the process may not be as quick and easy as it should be, please do push through and report every crime.

Remember, as Edmund Burke famously said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Postscript » in our digital age, it sometimes feels that lack of presence on social media means lack of presence in the real world which is perceived as a lack of service or lack of interest. SAPS cannot update the public on what they are doing via social media! While cases are under investigation, there is sometimes a need to withhold information from the general public in case it later jeopardizes the chances of a criminal being apprehended, or the ability of a case to successfully go to trial. This is a fine line that is managed by police public relations. This means there may often be plenty of groundwork going on that does not get reported on: the first time the public may hear feedback is once a result has been obtained and a criminal has actually been apprehended – at that point a SAPS press release is usually prepared.


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