Tag Archives: Community Police Forum (CPF)

“Don’t ask me, ask them!” the cop snapped back

From the Business Day Live, by Sipho Hlongwane
, 1st October 2013

THERE is a certain amount of seediness that one is willing to accept from Long Street in Cape Town. This after all is a street lined with grungy bars and nightclubs, and some that do not even make that much of an effort.

Walking down the street at night is to walk a gauntlet of grimy puddles, drunk and drugged revellers, tinny music, aggressive beggars and offending smells. But that is the charm of it. The fun is unvarnished. The promise of danger looms heavier than the famous mountain just over yonder.

But one does not expect to walk into a riot on the street. One certainly does not expect it to escalate and then ebb all on its own, in full view of a handful of police officer. But that was my Sunday morning. And I am profoundly disturbed by the indifference of it. The whole thing was too big and too violent to have died away without any attention from the greater public, whether it be in the press, or the City of Cape Town’s response.

It is difficult — pointless, even — to recreate the events in the dry tones of journalism. It is not like I arrived after the fact, ready with my notepad and pen to extract facts from authorities and bystanders. I saw it happen. I spent perhaps an hour with my girlfriend comforting and marshalling shocked and injured bystanders. I was as much a part of the scene as I was an observer.

I could not tell you how it started. We arrived on the scene walking in a north-easterly direction towards our hotel in the early hours of Sunday after a night spent revelling in an avant-garde theatre performance. The first sign of trouble was a section of the sidewalk that was blocked off with police tape.

There were perhaps three ambulances and two police cars, and I remember seeing three men lying on the ground. One was about to be lifted into an ambulance, and was shirtless. He had three big wounds in his back. The other two were being attended to by the paramedics on the ground. Something big had clearly just happened.

These were young boys, no older than 20. On the side of the street that we were on, there was a big group of boys of a similar age, milling about anxiously and occasionally shouting at the handful of police who were there. I can only understand so much Xhosa, but they were angry.

Suddenly, that same group — moving as if they were one — took off at a terrific pace around the block. That speed is employed in two occasions: when people are running away, or running toward something terrible. I had to follow. I sincerely wish I had not.

As I rounded the corner, having run fast enough to catch up with the tailend of the group, I saw two (maybe three) men surrounded by this group that I had followed. A torrent of punches was raining down on them. They were both crouched in the foetal position, but under such a hail of blows, it was not helping. Then someone took out a knife, and the last I saw of that scene was the convulsions of one back as it went into it. I could not see anymore because I had hands on me. My assailants were barking furiously in my face. Who was I? Was I of this group, or that?

This was a gang thing. I summoned every last scrap of breath to shout back that I was media. It took two or three roars for the message to sink in. They eventually thrust me aside. I ran back to Long Street. The scene had somehow worsened. For a moment it was absolute pandemonium. People were running in every direction, and in practically everywhere direction I looked, someone was being assaulted.

The only oasis of calm was a small collection of police in the middle of the street.

I rushed over to ask what happened. “Don’t ask me, ask them!” the cop snapped back. I do not believe I was truly frightened until that moment. They seemed to believe that their only task in such a situation was to direct traffic around the cordoned off area. This was going to get very bad.

I found another group of angry rioters, and asked them what happened. One of the more naive ones replied and said that they were a school group from Nyanga who had come to Long Street to celebrate, something, and had all been partying well enough when they noticed one of “their” group members being assaulted by someone belonging to another, and decided to get involved. Then it just went all over the place.

I went to another group and asked the same thing. They would not say a thing to me. Then I recognised their faces. This was the same group that was about to commit grievous violence on me just moments before.

We decided to walk away. We went for the delicious Asian food that Long St specialises in and walked into find another group of people in distress. This was different. For one thing, there was a white girl with them and she was in shock. Her friends were crying. They turned out to be tourists from Pretoria who had come to Cape Town to visit, and the white girl had been mugged. The police, seeing her black friends trying to comfort her, immediately assumed she was being mugged and tried to intervene. No amount of explaining helped, and who knows what would have happened if we had not arrived and intervened? What incompetence. What infuriating stupidity. Why are they so good at making a bad situation worse?

After collecting our food, with the riot continuing unabated outside, we walked further up the road to our hotel. We found yet another group of tourists who were caught up, either by getting assaulted or robbed. They were from some European country — I forget which — and were so immobilised with fear and trauma that we had to repeatedly ask them to get off the street and to safety before they would move.

Our hotel room overlooked Long Street, and from the safety of height, watched the event unfold. I do not think I saw more than 10 police on the scene. I think there were about 150 people on the street at any point, and most were angry young men. This was a riot.

Dawn was approaching at this point. Taxis were pulling up, and some of these people were getting in. Some were injured. Some tried to clamber onto the outsides of the departing taxis, and were getting hauled off by assailants or police. It was all a bit too traumatic for me. I watched football on the iPad to calm myself, and went to sleep.

Do we care that this happened? Aside from the drama, I mean. Does it mean anything that I observed violence everywhere when I was just on a night out in Cape Town? I did not see any news coverage at all. I certainly did not see enough law enforcement to calm the situation quickly enough to save people.

I can deal with the indifference of the police and I saw enough of it in Marikana to last me several lifetimes, but it blows my mind that — apparently — Long Street gets ragged to this degree and it can pass for just another incident that we will quickly forget about. It is not that tourists and pretty white girls (hello media, this is where you step in, right?) got hurt. It is the fact that we can accept this as normal lived experience and be okay with that.

For a moment, Long Street was the setting for the kind of violence that goes on in Cape Town’s townships and slums daily. This after all is the most dangerous city in the country with one of the worst murder and assault rates in the world, but it all happens out there, doesn’t it?

It is not good enough to shrug and say, “Long Street, hey” and move on. I am furious with the police who did not care and the journalists who did not turn up to cover this, and the bystanders who shrugged and walked by. But to properly interrogate what happened on Sunday would require us to give a damn about what happens “out there in the Cape Flats”, wouldn’t it?

And we wonder why our social problems are seemingly intractable.

Copyright BDFM Publishers

Lawyers start circling local government …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 29th November 2012

Residents and businesses in the central city have been asked to “play nice” and be “good neighbours” during the festive season as resources are limited. Brandon Golding, chairman of the Cape Town Community Police Forum (CPF) said this at a police imbizo held at the Cape Sun, last week . “So we have to work smarter, be good neighbours and the community needs to report suspicious behaviour,” he said.

Central City Improvement District (CCID) security manager, Muneeb Hendricks said they were also preparing for the festive season by installing incident mapping systems and cameras on the mobile kiosks around the city. Daniel Rezant from the City Film and permit office said of the 208 events which will be held across Cape Town, 28 were planned for the CBD and the biggest is the switching on of the festive lights which takes place on Sunday December 2. Several roads surround the Grand Parade will be closed and officials are expecting 40 000 people to attend. “There is also the Harrington Square block party on Friday December 7 and the summer market at the Company’s Garden,” Mr Rezant said.

The issues surrounding tables and chairs took centre stage when John Davidson, the owner of Bob’s Bar said establishments in Long Street were still being fined. Following a meeting between police, the CPF, ward councillor Dave Bryant and bar owners in Long Street an agreement was reached to wait for the City to get legal opinion on the permit system before any further action was taken. However, Mr Davidson said this was not the case as police officers continued to fine establishments that serve alcohol to the outside tables. “We all need to know what is going on as we cannot operate our businesses on a shoestring. Police officers keep passing the buck, but we cannot go on like this,” Mr Davidson said. After making a phone call, Mr Golding said he had confirmation from the Cape Town CPF Cluster head, Peter Mead, that while ordinary liquor checks will be taking place, establishments would not be fined for outside tables. “We have confirmed that the normal liquor checks regarding licences are taking place in Long Street but police officers will not be fining establishments for outside tables,” Mr Golding said.

Noise complaints in Long Street also took centre stage when labour lawyer Michael Bagraim questioned Mr Hendricks about noise pollution in the area. “I represent a group of hotels on the upper end of Long Street and over the past three months, the noise situation has worsened. “We have found that it is particularly bad between 11pm and 3pm and with the festive season coming up, I want to know what you are doing about it,” Mr Bagraim asked. Mr Hendricks said the CCID security officers had no jurisdiction to take action against noisy clubs, instead they ask them to turn it down. “The correct channel is the City of Cape Town inspectors and they can now confiscate the clubs’ sound equipment,” Mr Hendricks said. Norbert Furnon-Roberts said the possible pedestrianisation of Long Street could help with noise issues.

Geoff Madsen, developer of Flatrock Suites and Janis Ross of Maremoto agree with Mr Bagraim. In a seperate interview, Mr Madsen said while some club owners co-operated many made no effort. “At Flatrock Suites, we have many people who are selling their apartments because of the noise and many of them are selling below the market price. “The value of the building has dropped by more than 27%. I have raised my concerns, but have been told that because we live in the city we have to put up with it and that it goes against the development of the city,” Mr Madsen said.

Ms Ross said after spending an evening at her boutique hotel on Saturday November 24, she believed the situation was worsening. “The noise levels were the usual bass, boom boom sounds getting louder as the night progressed. “However, the major problem was at about 4.30am when I was woken up by the hooting of taxis spread right across the road and backed up solidly from the Urban Chic Hotel to the Long Street baths. “This lasted for about 30 minutes. This could and should be avoided as the noise levels are unacceptable. “There must be policing and law enforcement during these times to eliminate this harassment urgently.

“The noise in Long Street has worsened due to a lack of enforcement of sound levels and the behaviour of bar patrons and owners,” she said. Ms Ross said the noise had a negative impact on her business as people no longer booked into the hotel and said tourists only stayed for a few days. Byron Qually, convenor of the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA), said thanks to Mr Madsen who helped connect night club owners and residents at the top of Long Street, there has been some improvement. “The owners of Marvel and Cafe Royale have responded to residential concerns and reduced their noise footprint. Unfortunately noise concerns are still very much part of the rest of the Long Street community,” he said.

He said the association had raised their concerns with Mr Bryant who said he sympathised with the LSRA concerns regarding noise. “Unfortunately the extent of resolution appears stop there. “For example at a meeting requested by the LSRA in April 2011 and organised by the City, it was minuted that Mr Bryant would provide feedback on ‘Exploring the option of a full time and dedicated sound task team, who are trained and authorised to intervene in noise disputes when they occur at night’. “Minutes were sent to him, and have been publicly displayed on the LSRA website. “We have had absolutely no feedback from him regarding this request. “Similarly, when a noise dispute occurs on the weekend and he is called for advice on how to resolve it, only a voice message option is available,” he said. Mr Qually said while pedestrianising of the street, may help resolve pollution from car sound systems, it was unlikely to resolve the night-club sound pollution.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

All her responses were sent by email …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 4th October 2012

MONIQUE DUVAL Residents in Bree Street and the Community Police Forum (CPF) have objected vociferously to an application by the Orphanage cocktail bar which has filed an application with the Liquor Licensing Tribunal to alter its premises. Orphanage marketing manager Katie Friedman said while the existing premises would remain as they are, they plan to expand into the adjoining building at 11 Orphan Street. “Orphanage is tiny and we are doubling the size of our space to make it more comfortable and to increase focus on our food offering and flexibility. We also want to have a fully-sound-proofed building,” she said.

But the application has not been welcomed by the Cape Town CPF who claim the granting of the application would have a negative effect on surrounding residents. According to the objection lodged by the CPF, chairman Henry Giddy said the Orphanage was known for causing a noise nuisance and said the section of Bree Street could not be compared to the party hub that exists in the upper end of Long Street. “The residents have for many years lived peacefully in the area and are they are being severely prejudiced through the existing operation of the Orphanage as indicated by the numerous listed noise disturbance complaints,” Mr Giddy said.

The 14-page objection also consists of photographs taken from an apartment in CPI House to show how close the bar is as well as photographs showing patrons on the pavements outside the establishment. Resident Nanine du Plesis said since the Orphanage opened, she had to deal with loud music from 10pm to 2am every day and said she has reported the bar several times. “I phoned the Central City Improvement District (CCID) and the police, and I have references to prove it. “I even notified Charlene Vassen, the senior inspector from the City to come and inspect, but unfortunately they arrived after 2am. I live very close to the bar so I am directly affected by the noise that’s why I am objecting,” she said.

The application also includes the extension of liquor trading hours from 2am to 4am. But in the objection Mr Giddy said if one or more establishments in upper Bree Street are permitted to trade beyond 2am, it would act as a magnet for the criminal element operating in the Long Street area. “Upper Long Street generates a significant amount of crime ranging from pick pocketing, robbery, armed robbery and theft from motor vehicle. This is as a direct result of the prevalence of night clubs and the inevitable criminal element the industry attracts. “By analysing the monthly crime map for August (2012) the CPF identified 11 cases of robbery and eight cases of theft out of motor vehicles reported to the police in the upper Long Street area. That compares to zero cases of robbery and four cases of theft out of motor vehicles in upper Bree Street in the same period. “The situation in Long Street would have been far worse had it not been for additional crime containment measures in the form of six Central City Improvement District (CCID) officers and police officers deployed in the Long Street,” he said. Mr Giddy said that neither the police nor the CCID could provide extra resources to Bree Street, should the application be granted.

However, Ms Friedman said she found this odd. “If the Orphanage had wanted to open on Long Street, we would have done so – we chose Bree Street as we enjoy the diversity of its offering. We do not see our current bar as a ‘nightclub’ we are a cocktail bar (emporium), which happens to have a DJ. “The intended Orphanage will be an intimate nightclub with a stage, harking back to the glamorous 1920s style of night clubbing but this will be in a fully sound-proofed and purpose-built building. “Since opening we have had one incident of a bag being taken (or lost). In the past six months there have been no other incidents relating to Orphanage or our guests. “Our guests are generally well-heeled Cape Town inhabitants. “It’s also worth noting that prior to us opening, there were regular instances of the businesses on either side of us being broken into. Since opening this has stopped. “We have superb private security both inside and out and we take our social and neighbourly responsibilities very seriously,” she said.

Ms Friedman said the pictures of patrons on the pavements were misleading. “Orphanage customers are not permitted to consume alcohol or block the pavement. “However, they are permitted to do both of these things on the gravel area and the stoep area. We have excellent security staff who ensure that customers do not remain on the pavement blocking access or consuming alcohol – taking a snap-shot of patrons crossing or walking towards our entrance or permitted areas is misleading,” she said.

According to mayoral committee member for Health, Lungiswa James, the Orphanage did not have a Health and Entertainment Licence and was fined on Wednesday August 29 for trading without one. She said an application had been made in May but had not yet been issued as the owner has not yet complied with the requirements set out by the City. When asked whether the bar’s management was aware of the requirements, Ms Friedman said: “We were not experienced bar-owners prior to the opening of Orphanage. We have been very surprised at the amount of permits, licences, permissions and inspections that are required to operate. “The red-tape is so overwhelming it is surprising that anyone opens anything in South Africa, but we will press on and all our applications are in process -– generally we are waiting for the council to respond or send an inspector which is why the application is not completed. “Orphanage completed all the requirements in the shortest possible time-frame, but we cannot be responsible for the laborious and seemingly-overwhelmed official process.”

Ms Friedman admitted the bar was not soundproofed and they were aware of all noise complaints. One resident who has lived in the area for several years, who asked not to be named, said the biggest problem was noise. “Noise from the music and the people who socialise in front of the venue. Before, most residents had the odd night where the Long Street noise would hit them, but now for many residents it is an almost daily occurrence. Obviously there is also a marked increase in traffic, parked cars, hooting taxis, aggressive car guards, drunken behaviour, shouting and so on. All of which are negative and new to our area,” she said. In response Ms Friedman said: “One cannot expect to live in the centre of Cape Town and not have noise. We agree there is an increase in traffic and parked cars, however, our security ensures external noise is kept to a minimum and guests are always requested to be respectful to neighbours upon leaving our premises.”

Nick Spencer from the Western Cape Liquor Authority said since the application was made, they have received seven objections. He told the CapeTowner that the application had been made under the new Act When asked what role the business licence played in deciding whether the application was granted by the Liquor Authority, Mr Spencer said: “Business licensing and zoning are municipal functions and responsibilities. “Under the new Act, the Liquor Licensing Tribunal looks at these two aspects only when an application for a licence is made. The Liquor Licensing Tribunal will consider the application as well as all representations received, and then make a decision.”

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From the CapeTowner, by Katie Friedman, 11th October 2012

In response to the article (“Bree Street battles”, CapeTowner, October 4), the second headline “City centre residents shouldn’t complain about noise, says bar manager” of the continuation of the article on page 2 is fabricated. No bar manager was interviewed for this article, all responses were made in writing and reporter Monique Duval has said: “The headline was taken from your response to the questions posed by us.” Our response was: “With respect, no-one can expect to live in the centre of Cape Town and not have noise.” Which in no way relates to the sub-headline. It’s also worth noting your omission of the first part of our sentence, which is quoted in the article too, which again skews the perception of what was actually said.

We believe this subheadline and dreamed up quote will seriously compromise and prejudice our licence applications. As a result it will have a serious impact on our business – we are surprised that the CapeTowner with whom we have only had positive dealings in the past operates in this way – creating an untrue quote or headline to sensationalise a story. Additionally, the extra Word On The Street piece states “Orphanage said people cannot expect to live in the city and then complain about noise”. Yet another made-up quote. Additionally you state we are operating without a licence when all licences are either granted or are in application.

We will add this into our complaint to the Press Ombudsman. Shame on you. We are grateful for any comment you have on this fabricated headline. Thank you in advance for your assistance in helping us set the record straight.

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From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 11th October 2012

Ms Friedman’s allegation that the quotes were fabricated are untrue. We investigated this case for several weeks before the report was published. In my conversations with the bar manager Raymond Endean, he told the CapeTowner that Ms Friedman, the marketing manager, would be responsible for liaising with the newspaper. In the second paragraph we stated that Ms Friedman was the marketing manager. The CapeTowner did not have a sit down interview with Ms Friedman as we were told she was in Europe. All her responses were sent by email so the fact that no interview took place is irrelevant because she provided a written response.

Nowhere do we state that there was face to face interview. The headline was taken from Ms Friedman’s response to a question we posed. This is what we sent her: “When asked what their reasons were for objecting to the application made by the Orphanage, one resident said: ‘I think the biggest problem we have faced since the opening of Orphanage is noise. Noise from both music and the people that socialise in front of the venue. ‘Before, most residents had the odd night where the Long Street noise would hit them, but now for many residents it is an almost daily occurrence. Obviously there is also a marked increase in traffic, parked cars, hooting taxis, aggressive car guards, drunken behaviour, shouting, all of which are negative and new to our area.’ Can you provide a response to this?”

Mr Friedman responded: ‘With respect, one cannot expect to live in the centre of Cape Town and not have noise. ‘We agree there is an increase in traffic and parked cars, however, our security ensure that external noise is kept to a minimum and guests are always requested to be respectful to neighbours upon leaving our premises.” We clearly asked her to respond to the complaint made by a resident so the headline is not incorrect.

The Word on the Street, is an opinion piece written by me. And in it l stated that the bars and clubs are required by law to apply for business licences. In an official response from the City’s Health Department, mayoral committee member Lungiswa James said the Orphanage made an application for the licence but that it had not been granted because the Orphanage had not as yet fulfilled all the requirements. It’s important to note that just because the business licence application has been made, it does not mean that approval is guaranteed. Councillors from the Good Hope Sub-council will still have to view the application and decide whether or not it should be granted. Based on the above, I don’t see how saying the Orphanage is trading without a licence is untrue.

The CapeTowner goes to great lengths to ensure that all articles are accurate and fair. We spoke to various sources and Ms Friedman was given a chance to respond to all the allegations made by the residents and the Community Police Forum (CPF). We have written responses to all the correspondence which will prove that there was no fabrication and will counter the claims made by Ms Friedman. Fine time Richard Bosman, Executive Director for Safety and Security, City of Cape Town In response to the article (“Bree Street battles”, CapeTowner, October 4), the City’s Liquor Unit responded to a complaint from the resident regarding the Orphanage and the following actions were taken:

– On Friday May 11 a noise warning was issued in terms of the Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisance By-law.
– On Friday August 17, a R1 000 fine was issued in terms of the Business Act for operating without a business licence. A second noise warning was also issued, as the first one had expired. The complainant was given the contact numbers of the Liquor Unit, so they could be contacted if the problem re-occurs.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

Dismay when only three people turned up …

From the CapeTowner, 6th September 2012

Officers from the Cape Town Central police station expressed their dismay when only three people turned up for their imbizo, even though notices were sent to the role players. Central City Improvement District (CCID) security manager, Muneeb Hendricks, said he was dismayed at the turnout after sending out more than 100 invitations by email.

“These meetings are important because they give the community an opportunity to liaise directly with police about their concerns. Over the past few years, I have noticed that when things are going well, few people attend,” he said. Mr Hendricks also said there was a shift in crime in the CBD from “major crimes” to “social crimes”. The police precinct covers the CBD, De Waterkant, Gardens, Vredehoek, Higgovale, Bo-Kaap and Oranjezicht, among other areas. However, the imbizo was held to discuss crime in various parts of the CBD including the central city, the Forsehore, the Grand Parade and the station deck.

Station Commander Brigadier Kolindhren Govender expressed his dissatisfaction at the turnout and said officers went out of their way to be there. “Cape Town Central is a very busy station and we need the community to come on board and raise their concerns with us about crime. “On average, more than 450 000 people come and go in to the CBD every day. “It is a very different police precinct in that we cover the residential areas, Table Mountain and the entire CBD. “In the CBD, we manage more than 600 liquor outlets and one only has to drive down Long Street on a Friday or Saturday night to see the problems we have to deal with,” Brigadier Govender said.

Geoff Madsen of the Long Street Residents‘ Association (LSRA) said he didn’t attend because he received no notification of the meeting. Mr Madsen said he attended previous imbizos and found them useful. “In my opinion the biggest crime problem is snatching of handbags, and drugs. A while ago my wife’s bag was stolen at Mojito in Long Street and we reported it to the police. They came to our apartment and weren’t very helpful. We then called our sector commander, Sergeant Clifford Saunders, who came out and helped us to report the case,” he said.

Responding to questions posed by the CapeTowner on the attendance at meetings, Gert Coetzee, a member of the De Waterkant Civic Association, said he was not surprised by the low attendance at the imbizo. “By scheduling a meeting with the public for a Thursday morning, the police commander was sure to exclude most of the community in the CBD and surrounds most residents are at work then. “The same goes for the Community Police Forum meetings – held during work hours,” Mr Coetzee said.

When asked whether the police had considered scheduling the meetings at a more suitable time for residents, Brigadier Govender said: “The arrangement with CPF, security roleplayers and Business of Cape Town CBD is for meetings to be held during business hours and community members will attend evening Imbizos.” Speaking on general crime trends in the CBD, visible police commander, Colonel Pierre Laubscher said dealing with crime in the CBD was a complex issue. “In the city, you find a little bit of everything.

This precinct cannot be compared to areas such as Mitchell’s Plain, where crimes are often gang related. A few months ago, we had a shooting outside the courts in Keerom Street and that was gang related. The city also never sleeps. We have to monitor what happens all the time,” he said. Colonel Laubscher said in the past month, 14 motorbikes were stolen in the precinct and in some cases, arrests were made before the vehicles were reported as stolen. He also said that thefts out of motor vehicle were a concern.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

Unwitting contradiction in the City wanting residents to …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 19th April 2012

There have been mixed reactions to the new liquor policy which will allow pubs, clubs and other establishments to apply to extend their trading hours. The policy, which was explained to councillors at the Good Hope Sub-council meeting, on Monday April 16, will allow for establishments to extend their trading hours to no later than 4am, provided they fulfil certain requirements.

Sub-council chairman, Taki Amira, said the policy followed the amendments to the Liquor Trading Days and Hours By-Law which came into effect on Sunday April 1. According to the Act the trading hours for the sale of liquor are to be stipulated by the municipality. The cut-off time was 2am but the bylaw was amended to allow onconsumption premises to apply for an extension to trade until 4am, provided they meet the criteria set out by the City. But the City has to consult with the ward councillor, ratepayers’ associations and residents before it can grant an extension.

Christa Hugo from the City’s health department explained how the policy will work. She said only establishments which fall in business or industrial nodes may apply for the extensions. “The application will work in two parts, the first part will require establishments to go to the Land Use Management Department to ensure that their property is zoned correctly. “If they are not, their application will not be considered.

The applicant will then have to go to the Metro Police and Law Enforcement to get clearance from these departments to see whether they have contravened any laws regarding noise, liquor or whether there have been complaints against their business,” she said. Establishments will then have to pay a R5 000 application fee which will be processed by the health department. City health will then forward the application to the subcouncil, who will get feedback from the community before making a decision on whether to grant the application,” Ms Hugo said. Mr Amira said the policy will apply to new liquor licences and renewals.

Ward councillor Dave Bryant said: “This is a positive step. In areas such as Long Street there are legitimate businesses who would qualify for the extension.” “The City will not be granting extensions willy nilly and will consult the community on these applications. The new laws call for liquor traders to become more responsible,” Mr Bryant said.

Vusa Mazula, co-owner of Zula Bar in Long Street said he felt he had no choice but to apply for the extension. “With the way business is in Cape Town, we must apply for the extension. The 2am cut-off time was simply too early and would have killed our business. I think the application fee of R5 000 is a bit steep but I welcome the policy and the amendments to the by-law as it is giving us a fair chance,” he said.

Residents however, have slammed the new policy as they feared it would not be policed properly. Buiten Street resident Geoff Madsen said he thought the extension should only be given to compliant businesses. “The extension policy adds noise, security and criminal activity to the area. “Research should be done on who the patrons are at that time of morning and what economic value the city and businesses achieve for the extra two hours of operation,” he said.

Residents had enough problems with clubs that traded until 2am, said one woman who did not want to be identified. “This refers to the noise and music a nightclub produces, but also to noise generated by patrons inside and outside the venue. “Patrons tend to be loud while walking to their cars, they laugh, giggle and shout. I often find myself looking forward to 2am because I know that the music will be turned off and that there will be fewer people shouting in the street “If the City did grant an extension till 4am, I think that this could only be done if venues with full soundproofing and a venue that has never had a noise complaint. “I don’t know of a single properly soundproof venue in the city and I also cannot think of a single venue that has not been complained about. “Further, if the City is already struggling to control and enforce the law on existing clubs with a 2am cut-off time, I sincerely doubt they will be able to enforce further laws to a 4 am cut-off time. Plain and simple, bad idea,” she said.

Byron Qually, convenor of the Long Street Residents’ Association said the knock-on effect of the liquor trading hours was the problem not the by-law. “In principle, the extension seems to suit bars, clubs and residents. “However, from our experience with City by-laws and even basic licensing, the management and follow through of policy, particularly if it involves City Health, is highly questionable,” he said.

Janis Ross, said the trustees of the Ross Family Trust which and owns Maremoto in Long Street will object vehemently and rigorously to any extension of trading hours for the clubs surrounding their business which are causing severe noise problems.

A hotel manger who refused to be named due to threats from nearby clubs, said the extensions should not be granted. “I don’t see why there is a need for people to drink until 4am. There are businesses in Long Street that already trade until 4am without having any of the special licenses. I doubt very much that it will be policed properly or whether our complaints and objections will be taken seriously.

Clearly the bars, pubs and nightclubs are more important than the residents and accommodation establishments,” she said. Community Police Forum (CPF) chairman, Henry Giddy, said the extension was a good idea as it helped give residents a better chance to have their say. “Residents now need to empower themselves and make their voices heard on applications. The extension policy gives the power to residents and I would definitely label it as an enabler. “The liquor forum will also look closely at these applications and communicate with the community and when necessary, we will object,” he said.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

In a follow up letter to the article above, Liquor policy Patrick Labrosse, Vicechairman, City Bowl Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association Regarding the Liquor extension policy. As usual, the devil is in the detail. Whether the cut-off time is 2am or 4am is only a question of degree in the inconvenience to residents.

In theory, this policy reads as reasonable and workable. But the club owners – the prime source of complaints – have been exceedingly good at ignoring the law and dragging any process on to their advantage (unlike the affected residents, club owners can afford the legal teams for dilatory tactics).

Some events organisers have also been guilty of ignoring agreed-upon hours and noise levels. The City needs the will to enforce the regulations; the muscle to enforce them; quick reaction times to discourage tentative offenders to try their luck.

Latest information indicates that this is the intention and the policy should lead to better coordination between the SAPS, the City and other parties. Added pluses are that the community will have to be consulted through the ward councillors, the ward committees, the ratepayers, and advertising to directly affected neighbours.

There is also the new ALF (Area Liquor Forum) just coming into life. And, together with a couple of added legal changes that should help, the maximum fine has been increased to R1 million. So it does seem that the City is giving itself the legal muscle to deal with problem establishments. It is also understood that the effect will not be felt immediately but progressively through liquor licence renewal applications.

There is an unwitting contradiction in the City wanting residents to return to the CBD but failing to date to ensure the conditions for residential life there and allowing clubs to defeat that aim. In the name of property redevelopment and bringing life back to parts of the CBD areas, the City has allowed after-hours leisure businesses to proliferate to the point where residents are considering moving out.

A single, wild-cat club can affect several blocks and hundreds of residents, so property developers should – and most likely do – welcome a policy that appears to want to deal with the problem. But only experience will show how effective these measures are. The other side – the errant club owners – are often brazen and do not lack resources and the affected residents are the ones on the front lines in this long battle.

Effectiveness will therefore require every part to function as intended and sustainably, including, of course, last but not least, the courts.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

Requirements of the community made clear to up front …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 5th April 2012

The new Western Cape Liquor Act came into effect this week and with more than 700 liquor outlets in the City Bowl, the Cape Town Central Community Police Forum (CPF) launched its own Area Liquor Forum (ALF) which will be responsible for liaising with the community about any applications in their area. The ALF is a sub-forum of the CPF and will be spearheaded by Norbert Furnon-Roberts. And with a host of liquor outlets from hotels and restaurants to pubs and nightclubs in the city, the ALF has also established a set of guidelines to assist its members.

CPF chairperson Henry Giddy said the forum was formed because the new Act allows for more public participation on liquor applications and renewals. “It is only fair to potential applicants to know up front how this responsibility will be implemented and what the expectations of the community are. “The City bowl currently has 721 licences with many new applications a month. Given that the stakeholders now include the police, the City in terms of business licences, the ward councillor and the CPF, it’s easy to see there is room for the process to break down.

“The purpose of the new forum is to establish a link between the community and the processes of stakeholders to ensure no potential problematic applications fall through the cracks,” he said. Mr Giddy told the CapeTowner one of the biggest concerns for the CPF is the “blatant disregard for the community and the law” by a handful of outlets. “These premises are often guilty of multiple infringements ranging from trading hours, noise as well as permitting criminal activities, thus becoming a nuisance to residents, degrading the local area also being a burden on tax payers’ resources, which have to then step in to resolve these issues,” he said.

The forum has drawn up criteria for various establishments applying for liquor licences in the City Bowl. According to the guidelines, the criteria stipulated by the forum request that all nightclubs which apply for liquor licences should first obtain a Health and Entertainment Licence before their application for a liquor licence should be considered. When asked about the legality of this, Mr Giddy said: “Some of the criteria we lay out is not explicitly defined in the law. “However, according to the Liquor Act, the community may consider invoking the clause which states the issuing of the licence is not in the public interest. So the requirements of the community and what we, the community, feel is in our public interest is made clear to potential applicants up front.”

Mr Giddy said the clause relating to noise was intended to raise awareness among club owners. “We are asking nightclubs to ensure their entertainment licences are arranged up front as these licences cover the requirements in connection to noise emissions. The most frequent complaint we receive from the community is noise related, so the reason we include this clause is to raise awareness of the requirement by the City with the applicant, who often claims to not know of this requirement after the fact. “In terms of the waste management aspect, there has, in the past, been a lot of on consumption premises which simply dump their waste on the pavement after closing late at night. This makes it very unpleasant for the working public and tourists coming into the city in the early morning. “Also it is a burden on the City and the Central City Improvement District’s (CCID) cleaning services.”

The new liquor forum has been welcomed by members of the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA). Convenor Byron Qually said the association currently did receive notifications from the Good Hope Sub-council offices about new applications for liquor licences. He said the guidelines were welcomed as it would cover both nightclub internal operations, noise and the knock-on effects. “From what we are experiencing in the CBD, nightclubs and restaurants trade without the required licences. Similarly, with the high turnover of establishments, new owners simply trade on the previous owner’s licence. We are unsure if this is legal, and if the reused licence remains valid.

“The big question is how will unlicensed nightclubs be identified, and if they will be required to close until the guidelines have been met. “The guidelines tend to shift the responsibility from the City health department to the nightclub owners. “For example, the request to conduct an independent noise abatement study may speed up resolution for all parties involved. It is also clear that nightclub owners are required to take responsibility for their patrons leaving the club. This is a welcome guideline as the LSRA is receiving ongoing concerns from lodging establishments about drunken street-fights in the early hours of the morning at the top of Long Street,” he said.

Alan Winde, MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, described the Act as “the single largest intervention to reduce alcohol abuse and its related harms in the province”. “Through the Act, we aim to reduce the number of drinking spots in residential areas. We will also be cracking down on distributors and retailers who supply the estimated 25 000 illegal shebeens currently operating in residential communities. “Under the Act they will be liable for penalties that include very heavy fines, jail terms and the seizure of assets. We will not stand idly by as alcohol continues to destroy our communities – we are taking them back from the clutches of alcohol abuse,” he said. The liquor forum has created flow charts which explain the process of liquor licence applications and how and when the CPF get involved.

For more information on the liquor guidelines visit www.capetowncpf.co.za or email liquor@capetowncpf.co.za or call 072 219 3010

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

Understanding the law and how clubs operate without a license …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 15th August 2011

Business licences, trading hours and lack of enforcement were the topics of discussion when residents met with City officials to tackle noise battles in the CBD. The Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) requested a meeting with Councillor Dave Bryant and other roleplayers including the Central City Improvement District (CCID) to raise concerns about clubs trading without the necessary licences and causing a noise disturbance. LSRA convenor Byron Qually said after two years of complaints there was no longer a question about whether there was a noise problem. He asked why bars and nightclubs were allowed to continue operating without health and entertainment licences. He highlighted O’Driscoll’s Irish Pub in Burg Street, where the owner had been found guilty in court for causing a noise nuisance, but continued to operate.

Mr Bryant read a response given by health director, Dr Ivan Bromfield which said the City did not allow or condone business that operated without a licence despite being fined or convicted in court. “The law enforcers are, however, reliant on either successful noise level readings or affidavits from affected persons before the repeat offenders can be summonsed back to court,” Mr Bryant said. Good Hope Sub-council chairperson, Taki Amira, said many of the problems faced by the City were a result of the municipality being tasked with carrying out national legislation. “To start, we must note that in order to operate a nightclub, you need two things. A liquor licence and a health and entertainment licence. The issue is that the Business Act is national legislation and the sub-council cannot refuse applications if all the requirements are met. For instance, we receive applications for adult entertainment businesses and while we would like to reject them we can’t if they meet the requirements,” Mr Amira said. He said among the problems faced by the City was the granting of temporary liquor licences. “Once they have that they start operating. We contact law enforcement agencies who visit the premises to check if their paperwork is in order. When we find that they do not have the appropriate licences they are fined. In some cases this deters them from trading but in other cases this is petty cash for them,” he said.

CCID security manager, Muneeb Hendricks said one way in which residents could assist was by keeping an eye on liquor licence applications. “We conducted an ‘exploratory mission’ to take a look at the noise problem. “What we found is that it is often difficult to single out a club because of the ambient noise. We should look into the possibility of compiling a report for residents which looks at what they can do to help. This issue was also discussed in the Cape Town Central Community Police Forum Meeting (CPF) and it’s important to remember that residents can make objections to the Liquor Board in the granting of liquor licences to problem clubs,” he said. Burg Street resident Ashley Lillie said in his opinion the biggest problem was the lack of co-ordination between City departments dealing with noise issues. Residents also questioned the methodology used when conducting noise readings.

Geoff Madsen, one of the developers of Flatrock Suites in Loop Street said that when he first decided to develop the residential block which also consists of hotels suites he loved the idea of bars, pubs and clubs in the area. Mr Madsen invited the CapeTowner to hear the noise emanating from Chez Ntemba nightclub in August. During the visit, the CapeTowner witnessed the roof of the club lifting and heard heavy bass coming from the premises (“Noise raises the roof”, CapeTowner, August 11). “Our residents and guests support these establishments and we have no intention of closing them. All, we ask is for them to comply with the law. “Now we have to spend R2.5 million on soundproofing. We have been complaining for more than four years about a certain club and it seems our concerns have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.

Mr Bryant said that after assessing the problems faced by Mr Madsen he too had some concerns. “How can a building which has a tin roof provide any kind of soundproofing,” he asked. At the meeting residents and officials also discussed the possibility of accompanying officials from the City’s Health Department when noise readings are done in the CBD as well as the possibility of funding additional law enforcement officers to inspect clubs when complaints are received.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

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The following outlines the minutes taken by the LSRA at the aforementioned meeting:

Attendees: City: Councillor David Bryant and Subcouncil Chair Taki Amira
City Health Department: Lavinia Petersen and colleague
CCID: Mo Hendricks
CapeTowner: Monique Duval
LSRA: Approximately 10 individuals.

Document provided by the City Health Department on the LSRA questions:

Why are bars still able to operate knowingly without a license?

No answer provided.

Why are convicted bars owners allowed to continue with their illegal behaviour?

Some operators continue despite being fined or convicted in an court of law. The City does not allow or condone this type of behaviour. The law enforcers are, however, reliant on either successful noise level readings or affidavits from affected persons before the repeat offenders can be summonsed back to court.

Since 2009, what systems have the City Health Department introduced to assist residents with noise concerns?

The City enforces the Noise Control Regulations which allow for offenders to be fined in terms of exceeding the allowable noise limits and/ or to be summonsed to a court of law. The following systems are currently in place:
– Procedure for summonsing an alleged offender to court via the ‘noise nuisance” procedure in terms of the Noise Control Regulations. This procedure is based on affidavits from affected persons.
– Procedure for summonsing an offender to court when exceeding the noise limits – ‘causing a disturbing noise’. This procedure is based on successful noise level readings.
– Mandatory soundproofing via the Business licensing system.
– Arrangements for combined actions from various Departments are in place. Examples of these are where City Health with Law Enforcement or even SAPS. The CIDS are also included — especially on night-time surveys.
– Availability of staff in the Western district for night inspections increased from once every 6 weeks to every two weeks. This is especially useful where complainants do not want to provide affidavits.
– Increased the level of health court action against premises trading without business licences.
– Agreement reached that health would be informed of all complaints regarding noise that is received from the Call Centres. (Shannon and myself would receive and interrogate and forward as needed if action from City Health is needed – still in infancy and needs refinement as we have only received 6 complaints so far.)
– Regular meeting are held with all role-players involved in enforcement and legal actions where it relates to unlicensed business premises to enable better co-ordination and clear frames of reference.

Primary actions from the meeting:

– CCID and City: Exploring the option of a full time and dedicated sound task team, who are trained and authorised to intervene in noise disputes when they occur at night.
– City Health Department: To provide noise measurement test specifications, test procedure and acoustic report to the LSRA, and to invite members to a testing session.
– CCID: Provide a digital copy of their brochure on noise awareness to the LSRA for posting on the website.