Spike in Crime

Spike in Crime – Don’t become a victim!

Avoid being the victim of the crime and the court system. Having to appear as a witness / victim of a crime is no cruise on the canals at sunset.

That there has been a spike in crime in St Francis Bay is undeniable and things seem not to be getting better.  The call for volunteers for the Neighbourhood Watch is thus timeous, certainly until the present crime wave is brought under control. Whilst much can be done to stop this wave this will only be possible if all residents play their part, and that is not to say all must join Neighbourhood Watch although a few more volunteers wouldn’t hurt.

We all need to do all we can to secure our own properties by ensuring alarms are properly activated,  protecting open doors with closed security gates on these warm evenings we are enjoying, not leaving valuables visible in vehicles and not walking alone on the beach at night are a start. Clearing bush in around your property and your neighbourhood and reporting those who are not doing likewise. Every little bit helps.

Many will no doubt denigrate SAPS for not doing enough to curb crime and will say it is their job, but let’s be fair. They are understaffed, under resourced and will only become demotivated without the positive support of the community. But worst of all they are not being supported by the judiciary.

Having been the victim of a car break-in way back in June last year where the perpetrators were soon arrested thanks to CCTV not only alerting the resorts security of their presence but also capturing on video, their intrusion. Shut and dried case one would think but no! Since the incident this scribe and a fellow witness have been summoned to court three times since the incident and to date the suspects still have not been brought to book.

On our first court appearance as witnesses the case was postponed as the defence attorney had suffered whiplash. Fair enough these things happen and cannot be predicted. Second appearance the accused had been let out on bail and did not pitch up so a warrant of arrest was issued. And so the case was again postponed. At our third appearance, yesterday,  – you guessed it! Correctional Services failed to deliver the one accused to court and the whereabouts of the second were apparently unknown as the uncertainty lay in whether he was in the clink or roaming the streets on bail.

Spending as much time at the courthouse as I have over the past six or so months has been quite an experience. Not a pleasant one. The summons calls for you to be in court at 9:00 am and failure to attend will have you in contempt and thus no doubt face arrest. So as a law abiding citizen one abides, even being a little early just in case you miss the call and find yourself spending time in the slammer along with those you have come to testify against.

And so the experience begins. The passages are crammed with people, witnesses, family and even accused, out on bail awaiting court to start. But it doesn’t. In the courtroom, courtroom officials sit idly chatting, reading or possibly playing games on their cell phones. Must be games for nobody can be texting friends for 90 minutes. In the crowd you spot and chat with the odd detective you have come to know since your saga started, detectives who are now standing round waiting to give evidence rather than being out in the field solving crimes and arresting criminals.

Over an hour and a half after arriving at court and watching officials move from office to office through crowded passages, loaded with Manilla files and seeming to achieve nothing, the prosecutor calls you. You are one of the lucky ones for that friendly detective knows the prosecutor and manages to have a word in his ear to hasten things up. He, the prosecutor advises you that the accused are not available in court and so you may go but advises you that you will be called to bear witness at a future date. So you leave court some two hours after arriving and court incidentally is still not in session.

So some ten or more hours of attending a trial that hasn’t yet happened, one feels even more the victim. So to avoid not only being victim to the crime, but also a victim of the court system you should rather do all you can to avoid the crime being perpetrated in the fist place.

Lastly! Cape St Francis has been largely spared with far fewer incidences than in St Francis Bay, possibly because pickings are closer to the township in St Francis Bay. But let this not encourage complacency for if pickings become harder to come by, these criminals will quickly move southward.