Letter to the Department of Community Safety in the Western Cape Government

This is an email that I have sent to the  Department of Community Safety in the  Western Cape Government asking them if there is any way that we can legally keep up to date with investigations into very serious crimes in our area.

Recently we have had a spate of knife attacks in the peninsula area. Some have turned fatal, and whilst there is a big surge of outrage and media attention in the days following the crimes, that dies away pretty quickly, and we all soon forget. The investigations then grind to a halt as more cases are piled on top of them.

However, it seems, that the loudest voice wins, so if we can in some way maintain public pressure on those investigating, maybe, just maybe we can prevent them from dropping to the bottom of the paper work file, becoming just another statistic. This forum was involved some years ago in pressuring the authorities to upgrade safety on Kommetjie Road, in Fish Hoek, and maybe, we as a community can come together and do this again, this time with the stakes maybe that bit higher. And this may mean that the job is that much harder, but in the words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, “we choose not to do this things because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Anyway, the email :

Dear Ms Samuels,

Another sad, and tragically fatal, stabbing over theft of a personal item in the formerly quiet area of the South Peninsula of Cape Town. The latest incident which occurred this morning at the side of the Fish Hoek sports field has resulted in the death of an elderly gentleman, over the theft of a bicycle. This follows similarly fatal crimes on the mountains above Kalk Bay and on Longbeach in Kommetjie, as well as a seemingly endless stream of not fatal (though still harrowing) incidents involving knife attacks in the area.

As a community it seems that we are initially shocked by the incidents, and demand action is taken, and immediate response is usually positive, however, events are soon pushed from our minds, and often, though the incidents get media attention, the follow up is never reported (and sometimes, even arrests, and trials are never covered in the media).

And therefore, my question (or request) from you is this…

As members of the public, whom the police and other authorities supposedly serve, how can we get updated on the progress of investigations? How can we keep abreast of developments, how can we actually keep those investigating accountable, and not allow what are high profile incidents when they occur, peter out through public and private apathy? What are our rights within a framework of public knowledge balanced with the need to maintain the integrity of and investigation. Is there, in fact, any public forum, or process by which we can inform ourselves of such things?

As a community we are shocked and little numbed by these incidents, but it is clear through social media channels that there is a growing frustration at the feeling of impotency in dealing with what is starting to feel like a tidal wave. We are seeking to mobilize but have no clear idea of how to do this effectively (and I can tell you now, that it will not be long before ‘patrols’ are put forward as the answer- which will lead to some form of vigilantism, and all the problems that that will incur) and therefore any advice or direction that your department can provide us would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards

Russell Hepworth

Cape Point Chronicle.

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