Violent crime forces City to spend millions in security to protect its ordinary staff

Cape Town has spent R8.5 million in security costs just to be able to deliver basic services in areas where police have abandoned their posts





May 22, 2024

Violent crime forces City to spend millions in security to protect its ordinary staff

The City of Cape Town has allocated R8.5 million for private security escorts to safeguard municipal staff delivering essential services, following a disturbing surge in violent crimes against employees.

Since July 2023, water and sanitation workers have faced 22 hijackings and 52 robberies. The City reported that these violent incidents, including 16 armed robberies, have severely impacted service delivery and staff safety.

"Threats to our staff jeopardize employee safety and disrupt essential services, posing significant risks to community health and well-being, as well as causing emotional trauma to our staff," a City spokesperson said on Monday. The escalating violence has prevented workers from accessing certain areas, resulting in maintenance delays and compromised service quality.

The breakdown of incidents since July 1, 2023, is alarming: seven hijackings in Khayelitsha, six in Philippi, and three in Mfuleni. Additionally, there have been six robberies in Khayelitsha, three each in Blue Downs and Philippi, and two each in Strand, Gugulethu, Fisantekraal, Athlone, and Bishop Lavis. Stolen items include cellphones, watches, meter reading devices, tablets, and essential PPE.

Despite the City's commitment to service maintenance, safety concerns have necessitated the substantial investment in private security. The violence peaked in April, with two security contractors escorting City staff in Philippi’s Phola Park being shot and killed. Another fatal shooting occurred on May 17, when a private security guard protecting a sewer pump station in Athlone was killed.

Mayco member for water and sanitation Zahid Badroodien assured residents that every effort is being made to protect staff and maintain services. "We are working closely with local law enforcement and private security to ensure the safety of our teams," he said. However, securing adequate support can cause temporary delays in operations, as the availability of security personnel varies.

The City continues to grapple with the impact of these crimes, striving to balance the urgent need for service delivery with the paramount importance of staff safety.

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