When it comes to busy and bustling nightlife, there’s arguably no better place to find it than Long Street right in the heart of Cape Town’s CBD, but just how safe are you while you’re bar hopping and having a good time on this party stretch?
A recent article by Daily Maverick has made many stop in their tracks and think long and hard about spending their evening on this teaming street.
In the article, experienced journalist Raymond Joseph shares a story of an evening he spent in Long Street with friends for dinner. He says he considers himself streetwise and battle-hardened, but that evening he found himself becoming yet another crime statistic added to Cape Town’s massive numbers.
It was Joseph’s first time on Long Street and its lively vibe worked its charm on him, as it does with so many. While he and his friends were saying their goodbyes after dinner, they were distracted by a fight that broke out between two men. However, the fight, it transpired, was merely a diversion – in a flash, a pickpocket secretly swiped Jospeh’s phone before he could even blink.
“The man who had stolen my phone walked into the middle of a group of people and then a woman broke away from them at a fast walk. Realising she had my phone, I went after her, but found myself surrounded by three menacing men. In the brief time it took to push past them, she had disappeared. Speaking to a car guard and other bystanders afterwards I learned that this gang hangs around the area to rob people, seemingly with impunity,” said Joseph.
Joseph spoke to the restaurant owner about the incident the next day, and found out that although the owner had reported these pickpockets, who frequently target customers outside his place of business, to authorities before, nothing had been done.
It comes as no surprise to those familiar with Cape Town City Centre that incidents such as pickpocketing, mugging, drug dealing and breaking into vehicles are common in the area.
The problem is reportedly in part owing to gangsters and other dangerous criminals being released onto the streets on bail due to the city’s problem of overcrowded prisons. The released prisoners survive by committing crimes and preying on others. The CBD is itself becoming a giant jailcell with potential criminals among the many unsuspecting victims.
On top of this problem the Western Cape police seem unable to handle the number of crimes or even properly log statements from those who report them. Joseph says, “My attempt the next day to get a case number for an insurance claim was delayed because “the system is down”. There is a undeniable shortage of police in our province and some of the few police officers we have have been reportedly involved in arranged crime.
Many residents in the Mother City have or know people who have been robbed, had their car broken into or fallen victim to some other form of in the CBD or specifically on Long Street. An intervention is long overdue at this point.
Cape Town ETC made efforts to contact the City regarding what is being done to make the CBD a safer place but they did not respond at time of publish.
Picture: Google Maps