Tag Archives: JP Smith

Communities have been asked to report incidents of bad policing

From the Cape Argus, edited by Tamsin Wort
, 4th October 2013

CAPE TOWN – Despite the prevalence of CCTV cameras, foot patrols and a private-public crime-fighting partnership statistics show that robberies, burglaries and drug-related crimes have increased in the Cape Town CBD.

The police’s crime statistics show a 36 percent increase in business break-ins and a 12 percent rise in aggravated robberies reported to the Cape Town Central Police Station during the past financial year. City of Cape Town officials say they are reviewing their crime strategies in the city bowl and have called an urgent meeting to look into the issue.

There are 92 CCTV cameras in the city bowl and an average of 70 foot officers deployed to the area by the Central City Improvement District. Despite these interventions, burglaries, muggings and drug-related crimes remain a problem.The city’s JP Smith says Long Street is one of the hot spots they have identified.

“We have a problem with muggings, especially when people become inebriated. Once people have had a few drinks too may the muggers have a much easier prey on Long Street.” Western Cape Community Safety MEC Dan Plato says, “We have asked that the police increase their visibility in these hot spot areas.” Officials say a series of undercover operations will be carried out in an attempt to get a handle on the city’s drug problem.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape Community Safety Department has launched a new SMS line in a bid to get more feedback from people about policing in the province. Communities have been asked to report incidents of bad policing as well as provide positive feedback using the SMS line, 35395.

Copyright Primedia (Pty) Ltd

‘Bar’ owner denies wrong doing, but city resident finds justice in court …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 4th August 2011

Burg Street resident, Quahnita Samie is glad that O’Driscoll’s Irish Pub was found guilty of causing a noise nuisance. The City took the pub to court after receiving affidavits and complaints from Ms Samie over the past two years and after a long court battle, owner Alan Dunne was found guilty at the municipal courts on Wednesday July 13. However, Mr Dunne is planning to appeal the ruling on the basis that the “magistrate erred when reviewing the evidence”.

Ms Samie who returned from an overseas trip was glad to hear the news. She said she had endured many sleepless nights since moving into the area in 2009. “I am glad that the pub was found guilty of the offence; it has been an unpleasant experience and I hope that Mr Dunne will stop the loud music and heavy bass. “Should he wish to trade in such a manner then it is imperative that he take necessary steps to soundproof the premises. “I am also glad that I did not choose to leave my home and sincerely hope that the intimidation and constant reference to me having a vendetta against him will stop. I just really want to enjoy my home. “I would have assumed that given the outcome there would have been consequences in terms of a fine or an issue prohibiting the pub from playing loud music.

The regulations make reference to a fine or imprisonment or both if found guilty of an offence and in the event of a continuing contravention. “Reference is also made to confiscating equipment being used to generate music and amplified sound. I trust that these measures will be implemented should the matter be ongoing. The authorities need to be harsh as this case has dragged over a long time,” she said. However, Mr Dunne said he would be appealing the ruling on the basis that the magistrate erred when reviewing the evidence. Mr Dunne told the CapeTowner that one of the witnesses in the case, [Removed] who lived in the building next to Ms Samie and closer to the pub testified that she had not experienced loud music coming from the pub.

He said [Removed] had a “nervous” cat which was unaffected by the activities at the pub. Mr Dunne said he takes exception to excerpts from the ruling in which the judge said because [Removed] lived next to the pub she would not be affected by the noise. “This is wrong. She lives opposite the pub just like Ms Samie so if there was any noise then she too should have been affected. There were many anomalies in the ruling and my lawyers will be lodging an appeal soon,” he said. Mr Dunne said the ordeal had resulted in his pub losing business over time. “Ms Samie makes constant phone calls to the Central City Improvement District (CCID), The Metro Police and SAPS. “It’s bad for business and my profits are down my at least 20% because of this. Imagine you are having drinks with friends at my pub and you constantly see police coming to the premises. People will start to think there is something dodgy here and stop visiting the pub. This is not a night club it’s a pub,” he said.

Councillor Lungiswa James, Mayoral Committee Member for Health said the City summonsed Mr Dunne to court for causing a noise nuisance and for trading without a valid health and entertainment licence. The noise nuisance charge was supported by affidavits from Ms Samie. He said the first complaints about the pub were received in December 2009. According to the ruling Mr Dunne was found guilty and cautioned. When asked what the penalty was for being found guilty Mr James said: “The imposition of a sentence is at the discretion of the presiding officer. A warning or caution is not that unusual. Whether a pecuniary fine, alternatively imprisonment or a warning is given, the effect is that it is still being considered as a conviction for record purposes”.

In previous statements City Health director, Dr Ivan Bromfield confirmed that the pub was trading without a health and entertainment license. Mr James said Mr Dunne applied for a licence in April 2010 but said it was not issued as he had not complied with requirements set by the fire and health departments. “During his last court appearance on Wednesday July 13 Mr Dunne verbally withdrew this application,” Mr James said. Mr Dunne said the health and entertainment licence only applied to establishments who wanted to have live music playing and said he applied for one after being informed by City officials he was required to do so. He said because he hardly had live bands playing he didn’t need the licence. When asked whether the ruling would now count against Mr Dunne if he did apply for a health and entertainment licence, Mr James said: The Businesses Act allows for the criminal record of a person applying for a health and entertainment licence to be interrogated, and the contents to be taken into consideration when determining the suitability of the applicant to hold such licence. “It is standard procedure to submit the criminal record of applicants to sub-councils to aid in the decision making process”.

Byron Qually, convenor of the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) said they welcomed the ruling. “Ms Samie made countless attempts to inform the pub owner of noise pollution emanating from his establishment which was affecting her residential block. Instead of working with the residents to find a solution, the owner of the pub just choose to ignore her. “Even when confronted by noise measurement readings and Mayoral Committee member for Safety and Security, JP Smith (“Pub battle rages on”, CapeTowner, March 31) who came to personally review the situation, the owner remained defiant. “The LSRA was aware of what Ms Samie had to go through to resolve this matter, I sincerely hope her ordeal is not the benchmark for other residents. It is frustrating to be aware of how long it took for the issue to be resolved, and how many court appearances the owner did not turn up to, and most shamefully, how the noise pollution staff at the City’s Health Department tended to hide behind bureaucratic confusion. “It is also irresponsible, and possibly even illegal, for a company owner to be so openly reckless with his business, and directly place the livelihood and financial security of his staff at risk,” Mr Qually said.

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

When the Metro Police were trying to issue a fine, Mr Dunne refused to give …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 31st March 2011

An irate Burg Street resident is so fed up with a noisy pub in her street that she has resorted to all sorts of desperate measures to get the owners to turn down the volume including calling Mayco member for Safety and Security Alderman JP Smith for help. Quahnita Samie said the O’Driscoll’s Irish Pub and Restaurant on the corner of Hout and Burg streets caused a disturbance on St Patrick’s Day (Thursday March 17).

She said the pub continues to play loud music even though the City has taken the owner to court for being a noise nuisance and trading without a Health and Entertainment licence. She claimed that owner Alan Dunne and his girlfriend Zelda Holtzman, former Western Cape deputy provincial police commissioner, were interfering with police officers and stopping them from taking action. “I have a letter from the City which clearly states that the pub’s owner does not have the relevant licence and it is not allowed to play loud music, but Ms Holtzman kept interfering and telling officers they had a licence,” she said. She said after calling various police agencies including law enforcement, Metro Police and SAPS she became fed-up after not receiving any help.

Ms Samie said out of desperation she called Mr Smith in the early hours of the morning for assistance. “When I phoned him, he told me about the public places and the prevention of noise nuisance by-law and the proposed amendments which will allow City officials to impound the sound equipment of noisy pubs, clubs and restaurants. He seemed unable to assist so I decided to leave my home for the evening,” she said. However, Mr Smith arrived at Burg Street to see for himself, but by then Ms Samie had already left. Mr Smith said he arrived at the pub and tried to speak to the owner.“There was an obvious noise disturbance, I have never been to the pub before but I could hear the music from Strand Street,” he said.

Mr Smith said he called the Metro Police for assistance and tried to speak to the owner. He said an argument started between himself and Mr Dunne, who he said was “belligerent, aggressive and unpleasant”. “He stood for 30 minutes just insulting me. When the Metro Police were trying to issue a fine, Mr Dunne refused to give his name. He continued to argue with me and I tried to explain that because he had no noise abatement he was breaking the law and causing a nuisance to residents. He said that only one resident had complained but I informed him that it didn’t matter how many residents complained the point is the pub was breaking the law,” Mr Smith said.

When asked whether he could confirm Ms Samie’s allegations that Ms Holtzman was interfering, Mr Smith said: “She was definitely interceding by giving officers inaccurate information. “I had to continually refer them to their fine books showing them that the pub was in fact breaking the law and it needed to be fined.” However, Mr Dunne has denied all the allegations and said the pub was a respectable and quiet establishment. He said he was not aggressive towards Mr Smith and said in his opinion the Metro Police were bullied into issuing a fine. “Mr Smith came in here as if he was the chief of police. I later learned that he was a councillor and an Alderman,” Mr Dunne said. Mr Dunne confirmed that he was in a relationship with Ms Holtzman but denied that she interfered by giving Metro Police officers inaccurate information. “There were no grounds for police to take action as the bar was not transgressing any law so no, she did not interfere,” he said.

However, Mr Smith said he responded to the complaint to observe whether or not the allegations made by Ms Samie were true. He said Metro Police officers issued a fine based on the fact that the music could be heard outside the venue. Complaints Last year, Ms Samie spoke out about how she was affected by the noise (“Pub refuses to cork it”, CapeTowner, November 11). Ms Samie made several complaints to the City’s health department and has submitted affidavits. She first moved to the area in June 2009. She said the noise was unbearable and first raised her concerns with City officials in November 2009.

Executive director for the City’s health department Dr Ivan Bromfield said his department received the first complaint in 2009 and a warning letter was issued to the pub stating that they are trading without an appropriate health and entertainment business licence as required by the Businesses Act of 1991 and that they should apply for the necessary licence. The CapeTowner contacted the pub for comment at the time but the previous manager, who only identified herself as Claire, said she would see if she could get a response from the owner, Alan Dunne. No response was received.

Ms Samie is now a witness in this court case but said she was having trouble getting law enforcement agencies to help on St Patrick’s Day. The licence Mr Dunne said the pub first opened its doors in December 2006 and at that time it was known as Catu Irish Pub. The name was changed as he felt it was too cryptic and said the public weren’t aware that it was an Irish Pub and said he was the single owner. He said the first time he received noise complaints was when Ms Samie moved into the area. He said he did not apply for a health and entertainment licence as he had a liquor licence which shows he can play loud and live music as long as it did not cause a nuisance or disturbance to the neighbours. “I have to state, however, that it is an alleged noise, we have never had a problem with noise,” he said. He said his licence made provision for loud noise. Mr Dunne said he was informed that he needed to apply for a health and entertainment licence but said it applied only to establishments that play live music. He said he had applied for a health and entertainment licence but never followed it up as in his opinion it referred to live music and said the pub didn’t really have live bands performing.

However, on St Patrick’s Day when Ms Samie and Mr Smith alleged the incident occurred, the pub had a live band playing. Mr Dunne said he was being harassed by Ms Samie who he said made several calls to police officers and then accused them of not doing their job. He said the pub was only issued with fines after she accused them of not doing their job. When asked if it was his view that the pub was being fined because it was causing a noise nuisance, Mr Dunne said: “Absolutely not, there are occasions like St Patrick’s Day which is celebrated all over the world. And there is noise but not the kind of noise that causes a disturbance. Police have to respond to a complaint. It got to the point on St Patrick’s Day when people were on the street, but were moved inside and the police were happy. “But Ms Samie was not pleased and called the police again and another van arrived.”

In November Dr Ivan Bromfield confirmed that the pub was trading without a health and entertainment license. He said the City received complaints from Ms Samie. The matter was investigated and a warning letter was issued to the pub informing the owner that it was trading without the necessary licence. He said all premises keeping or conducting a night club or discothèque are required, in terms of the Business Act, to apply for the necessary health and entertainment licence. When asked what requirements establishments needed to fulfil before the licence can be issued, Dr Bromfield said: “A noise impact assessment and a noise management plan must be submitted to the City. These reports, compiled by an accredited acoustic engineer, must be to the satisfaction of the City. Any soundproofing measures, required by such reports, must be implemented and certified by the engineer and must be finally installed to the satisfaction of the City”.

Mr Dunne said he did not have to apply for a health and entertainment licence as the pub did not have live bands playing. Dr Bromfield said that all premises where live music, bands and shows took place needed to be in possession of a business licence issued by a licensing authority such as the City. “A licence issued by the Liquor Board is not done in terms of this Act and does not exclude any business from complying with the conditions contemplated in terms of the Business Act,” Mr Bromfield said. He said the City had received two noise impact assessment reports from the pub, but both were rejected due to non-compliance. Dr Bromfield said since the last report, the case has been postponed three times and the next court date is scheduled for Thursday, May 19.

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

Councillors reject City Health departments report …

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

Inconsiderate clubs who continue to trade despite noise complaints will not be tolerated, said Good Hope Sub-council chairman, Taki Amira at the meeting on Monday March 19. Mr Amira said the sub-council was concerned about the number of noise complaints and would be taking a firm stance. “The City promotes mixed use developments and we encourage people to rent and buy property in the city, but residents are constantly faced with inconsiderate clubs who continue to violate their rights,” he said.

In March last year, Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith broke the news that an amendment to the Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisance By-law, would see the sound equipment of noisy clubs impounded if they don’t heed warnings to turn down the volume. The amendment was lauded by residents who said they hoped it would help to deal with noise pollution in the city centre. Using this amendment, Mr Amira said clubs which continued to cause a nuisance would be issued with warnings. “We will be issuing final warnings and if we receive any noise complaints, we will ensure that club’s sound equipment is impounded. Following this we also received many requests from clubs asking what they need to do to comply. This sub-council is not against clubs but we want businesses to trade responsibly and we hope this warning is taken seriously,” he said.

The Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) has welcomed Mr Amira’s statement. LSRA convenor Byron Qually said it was clear that fines for noise transgressions have not worked in the past. “The costs incurred are just incorporated into a club’s operating budget. “Although this updated by-law will directly help residents resolve noise pollution, it places the onus on nightclubs to mange their sound equipment and DJs, and ultimately listen to the community that surrounds them,” he said. In a separate report submitted to the sub-council by the City’s health department about noise complaints in the area covered by the sub-council which includes the entire City Bowl, the Atlantic Seaboard and Hout Bay, 23 warnings were issued for noise contraventions and two fines issued between December 2011 and February 2012. But councillors rejected the report and said they they wanted to know how many complaints were made during the same period and how many.

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

City officials needed to be given additional powers to deal effectively with the …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 17th March 2011

City centre residents have welcomed a proposed amendment to the Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisance By-law, which could see the sound equipment of noisy clubs impounded if they don’t listen to warnings to turn down the volume. A motion passed by the City’s safety and security portfolio committee, called for an amendment to the current by-law to allow city officials to impound sound equipment of noisy pubs, clubs and restaurants.

Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith said the reasons for the amendment was that up till now city officials could only issue fines. Mr Smith said residents who experienced sleepless nights due to noise emanating from city centre establishments were required to fill in affidavits and submit them to the City’s health department. However, he said due to long, drawn out court processes this was not ideal and that City officials needed to be given additional powers to deal effectively with the situation. Mr Smith said currently there are three establishments in the CBD which are problematic and said officials had received hundreds of complaints from residents.

According to the motion, many of the complaints have dragged on for more than a year and “leads to hundreds of repeated noise complaints and angry frustrated residents across the city who blame the City and the South African Police Service for not being able to bring repeated offenders to book”. Hilda Borman, supervisor of the St Martini Gardens residential block in Queen Victoria Street said she received many noise complaints from residents in the building. “Some of the owners have installed double glazing, others try to sleep with earplugs, but this has hardly any effect at all. I often report the noise to the police. Sometimes they do react to the complaint and the noise is quickly attended to, but not always. I would like to suggest that events rather be held on the Parade or at the stadium,” she said.

Siranne Ungerer, operations manager of the Urban Chic Boutique Hotel, said she would support the proposed amendment as she hoped it would improve the quality of sleep for residents and tourists, and that clubs, pubs and restaurants would “know that there are very real consequences for the businesses should they not obey the law”. “We are a boutique hotel, and while it doesn’t affect my daily living directly, it does adversely affect the sleep quality of the international and local tourists that have booked rooms in our establishment. “We have had situations where music was so loud that the beds our guests were sleeping on vibrated. We have had to supply ear-plugs our guests on many occasions, which only block out about 20% of the sound and are uncomfortable to sleep with,” she said. “For years we received no feedback and no consequences were laid out to the establishments. This year we are seeing an improvement, one establishment has received three fines since January and another has been summoned and has been instructed to install sound proofing.”

A Loop Street resident who asked not to be named said she had continuous problems. “When I moved into my city flat in 2003, noise from night clubs was not a problem. Now it is a problem on most nights of the week. It is often thought that party noise occurs just on Fridays and Saturdays, but that is not the case, as it can occur every single day of the week. And it is this constant noise nuisance that makes it such a problem. “Over the past few years I have found my self becoming more and more irritable. My temper flares quickly, and when there is noise I can hardly control my anger. During the day I find myself worrying about possible noise in the evening and instead of looking forward to quiet time at home, I dread it. I have difficulty sleeping and often wait till after 2am – when the clubs close–to go to bed. But it is not just sleep that is affected. It is also the normal living that is affected,” she said. She said reporting noisy clubs to the authorities didn’t seem to resolve the issue as “authorities don’t have any real authority”. She told the CapeTowner of phone calls she made to the police, the Central City Improvement District (CCID) and the City’s noise inspectors but it did not achieve any results.

Mr Smith said many aspects needed to be taken into consideration when looking at noise pollution. He said the responsibility is on residents and developers of residential blocks. “I would not support a resident who moved into Long Street and then complained about noise,” Mr Smith said. However, he said, in cases where a resident had been living in a particular area for several years and a new club opened and caused a nuisance, the City would need to intervene.

Christiane De Villiers has been living in an apartment in Long Street for 13 years. In November last year she spoke to the CapeTowner about her grievances about a bar which opened below her flat (“Long Street noise ‘too much’”, November 4). When asked whether she supported the proposed amendment Mrs De Villiers said: “I hope that it will make club owners more aware of the residents’ needs and rights and that they take this into consideration. It seems punitive action is the only reasoning that will be understood, fines are just built into the clubs’ budgets”.

Piers Allen who has been living in Long Street for more than 15 years said the quality of life had plummeted in recent years. “This is due to the noise and repercussions of having so many late-night drinking establishments in Long Street. People-traffic and vehicular-traffic has become enormous; party buses go by at 11pm, and later, passengers whooping and screaming, booster amplifiers making every window in my building reverberate to their awful clamour,” he said.

However, Vusa Mazula owner of Zula Sound Bar said he believed the city needed to consult all parties including clubs before the amendment could be added. He said he understood the grievances of residents but said he thought all parties should come together to discuss the logistics of the area. He said he agreed that developers who intend building residential blocks or hotels in the area should ensure that the windows of their buildings are double-glazed. Mr Mazula said he would be sure to comment when the amendment came up for public participation.

Byron Qually, convenor of the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA) said while he supported the proposed amendment, his concern with noise pollution in the CBD was the state of the City Health Department which seems to be understaffed and out-of-sync with the rate of development in the city. He said businesses were obliged to soundproof their premises before an Entertainment License can be issued. “When a concern is reported, the health department’s assembling of a team to take a noise reading on a specific night seems ill conceived. This testing methodology relies on chance, and as has been experienced, the bars/clubs know in advance about the testing, and just change their behaviour on the designated evening. “The use of a data logger which records audio levels over a longer period (months) seems more appropriate,” he said.

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