I love Long Street. But lately I’ve been loving it a bit less.
In case you didn’t hear, a much-beloved doorman from Beerhouse was stabbed to death on Saturday night outside the popular gastropub on Long Street and this has gotten me thinking, how can we save Long Street?
RIP Joe! Beerhouse will reopen at 4pm today with 100% of the takings on the day going to support Joe’s family http://t.co/ASRDWVLwAc
— BEERHOUSE on Long (@BEERHOUSE) June 21, 2015
Despite the fact that it’s still a major tourist attraction, I’ve seen Long Street steadily deteriorate over the past decade in terms of safety – and this isn’t the first time an event has spiralled out of control there either. Roughly 12 years ago, I started visiting the street for it’s nightlife aspect and although it wasn’t entirely safe back then, at least you could walk 20 metres without being hassled on say, the corner of Long and Pepper. Yes, the City of Cape Town will argue that there are many CCID (Central City Improvement District) employees patrolling the street at all times of the day and night, and yes, the patrols do work at times (as shown in the tweet below) but we need more.
— Cape Town CCID (@CapeTownCCID) March 16, 2015
Just recently, I heard about a story of a girl who drank beyond her limit at a club on Long Street. A couple, who are friends of mine, noticed her in a very unsober state and tried to help establish who she arrived with and how she planned on getting home that night. As they all walked out the club, a group of five men approached the couple and girl and offered them money if they could take the girl home with them, after noticing her in her state. I find this absolutely sickening and the entire situation worrying. She got home safely that night.
Nearly every other week, I hear of locals and tourists falling for the classic pickpocket technique – distraction. Common questions usually posed by pickpockets to would-be victims involves shoes like “Nice shoes, where did you get them from?” – by the time you have looked up after studying your shoes for a brief moment, your cell phone is gone.
So how we do save Long Street? How do we restore it back to a time when anybody could walk it and feel entirely safe? I understand that you will rarely find it to be entirely safe at night in any one of South Africa’s major cities, but I wholeheartedly believe that we have the power to make a difference to retain the street’s status as both a microcosm of Cape Town and global tourist attraction.
How is it that only two roads up, a different picture emerges? Bree Street is significantly safer than Long Street, at any given time of day. Do initiatives like Open Streets and First Thursdays make a difference?
Some will argue that there are areas worse off in Cape Town which need heightened security, but none of these areas are on the same level of global appeal as Long Street. There are too many great restaurants, bars and other attractions to let our street slip into the point of no return.
Let’s get the discussion going on Twitter. How can we #SaveLongStreet?
A donation page has been set up by Beerhouse for Joe’s family here.