Seeking solutions to homelessness, crime problem in Somerset West

Safety and security MEC Dan Plato is flanked by Somerset West residents Heidi Weeks and Neil Matthews, who met with Mr Plato recently to discuss homelessness and crime in Somerset West.

Somerset West community activist Neil Matthews has taken his quest to address the issues of homeless people and street crime to Community Safety MEC Dan Plato.

Mr Matthews arranged the meeting after an appeal to the City of Cape Town at a public meeting in April to address these matters, attended by community members and officials from the City’s Department of Human Settlements, yielded little in the way of results (“Squatter problem persists”, Bolander, May 02).

Bolander spoke to Mr Matthews shortly after he met with Mr Plato at his office in Wale Street to discuss these issues.

“Heidi Weeks and and I had most productive meeting with MEC Dan Plato. I can tell you he wants to help sort out our problems,” he told Bolander telephonically.

“I’m deeply concerned about a number of issues, which I raised with Mr Plato, including the number of crime hot-spots in Somerset West, the crimes that have been committed, and the fact that there are nine retirement homes in the vicinity.

“We need to find a long-term solution to these problems,” he added.

Somerset West resident, Heidi Weeks, who accompanied Mr Matthews to the meeting, agreed it was a most productive meeting.

“Mr Plato suggested that the SAPS, private security companies, and neighbourhood watches should be approached to discuss options for more effective control and collaboration,” Ms Weeks said.

“He also agreed to address the residents of Somerset West with regard to their rights and how to work together to deal with the increasing problem of criminal activity.”

Other items on the agenda for the planned meeting are the possible training of peace officers with legal search powers, the setting up of a city improvement district which would entail a levy, putting up CCTV cameras, employing dedicated security assets, and the manning of a CCTV control room, as possible means of addressing the problem, the possibility of fencing public parks and locking gates at night, and the the clearing of vegetation in the Lourens River, a protected natural environment, according to Ms Weeks.

She said a date and time for Mr Plato to meet with the community to discuss these issues would be set by Mr Plato’s office, probably around mid-July.