Volunteers praised by SAPS

Bellville police station commander Brigadier Andre van Dyk.

Robbery in Bellville remains a problem but car break-ins and thefts are down.

That’s according to the police statistics from April to June that Bellville police station commander Brigadier Andre van Dyk shared at the Bellville Community Police Forum (BCPF) meeting on Thursday August 24.

He said police had cut contact crimes by 8.2% from April to June and property crime by 26% over the same period, with a further 37% drop in property crime in July and 34% for the first 23 days of August, compared to last year this time.

But business and house robberies have gone up, especially along or near the Voortrekker Road corridor, and Brigadier Van Dyk said foreign business owners were frequent targets.

He said 70% of robberies in Bellville happened along the corridor and adjacent area, while 60% of property crimes were committed in residential areas away from the corridor.

“The focus has to be on the corridor and that is where most of our resources are deployed,” he said.

He said 35 Bellville officers – the equivalent of four vans a shift – had been redeployed to areas such as Nyanga and Khayelitsha.

Brigadier Van Dyk said the CBD, lower Oakdale and lower Boston accounted for three quarters of all crime in Bellville.

He said their crime-fighting strategy had long been built on the notion that criminals were on foot when often that was not the case.

“The reality of the day is that criminals are far more sophisticated and organised. They move on foot from areas like Gugulethu, hire a car at the airport and move down the N2, down the R300 take the Old Paarl Road and start in Oakglen looking for a house to burgle or person to rob.”

However, licence-plate-recognition (LPR) cameras, he said, had given the police the edge they needed to counter that new crime trend, and he credited them for the drop in property crime and the apprehension of crowbar gangs.

“It is unbelievable what the community volunteers have achieved over the last few months by simply monitoring suspicious vehicles,” he said, and he thanked neighbourhood watches for their support.

“Bellville is a city and when you work in a city there are far more challenges that you face.

“You have people moving in and out every day, which makes it harder to detect and trace criminals.

“But if you have effective neighbourhood watches being the eyes and ears and monitoring the neighbourhood, then you can deploy vans in more difficult areas.”

The police arrested 363 people on drug-related charges from April to June, 31 for driving under the influence and they seized nine illegal firearms.

* BCPF chairman Hennie Koekemoer called for volunteers to become commissioners of oaths to help with non-essential services at police stations and free up officers for more urgent duties.

Volunteers would need to submit their applications to the magistrate’s court, go through an interview process, and be approved by the Department of Justice and undergo training.