HPP Newsletter - June 2023
Dear Hermanus Special Rating Area (HSRA) Property Owner,
During June, we, amongst other actions:
- Enlisted the help of a wide variety of stakeholders to participate in an upcoming HPP strategic planning session;
- Made an appeal to address the increasing problems of vagrancy, unauthorised car guards and homelessness which impact the safety and cleanliness of Hermanus;
- Supported the Overstrand Municipality (OM) in their disaster management response to the Eskom power outage in the period 14 to 16 June.
In last month’s newsletter I applauded the willingness of HSRA property owners to assist HPP in its affairs. In other recent newsletters I have cited HPP Public Safety Officers (PSOs) who have made personal sacrifices to assist others. The community spirit of Hermanus’ people continues to astound me!
This spirit was confirmed on Saturday 10 June, by the thundering applause which Imtiaz Sooliman, the founder and leader of the humanitarian and disaster organisation “Gift of the Givers”, received from the FynArts audience in the NGK Church. Imtiaz personifies the phrase “the best among people are those who benefit mankind.” His organization indeed provides hope in an increasingly uncertain world.
I am thankful for the same spirit which is being exhibited by a group of 24 stakeholders who have agreed to assist HPP in determining its strategic priorities for the period up to 30 June 2025, when the HSRA term ends. The stakeholders represent property and business owners throughout our SRA as well as OM representatives. In the words of Clem Sunter, the well- known scenario planning builder, we have “invited a large variety of cooks into the kitchen to prepare the meal.” The planning session will take place shortly and I will share the highlights of the outcome in the July newsletter.
In a nutshell, according to HPP’s Memorandum of Incorporation aligned with the Financial Agreement with the Overstrand Municipality, our objective is to supplement municipal services by ensuring a safe, clean and healthy environment within the HSRA. This is underpinned by a very specific business plan (approved by Overstrand Council on 25 March 2020) which can only be changed by following a prescribed consultative and voting procedure with HSRA ratepayers. We cannot take short cuts in this regard.
At present HPP is being challenged with requests to take responsibility for issues which fall outside this business plan e.g.:
- Providing supplementary safety services in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve – which falls outside the HRSA boundary; and
- Taking responsibility for a managed parking system in the CBD.
If you have any views on the above two issues, please let me have them by email.
A last word on the upcoming strategic planning process. Similar to our previous exercise held in 2022, participants will be asked for their views on the renewal of the HSRA’s term after June 2025.
The increasing problems of vagrancy, unauthorised car guards and homelessness which impact on the safety and cleanliness of Hermanus.
The rising issues of vagrancy, unauthorised car guards, and homelessness are having a significant impact on the safety and cleanliness of Hermanus. In HPP’s March Newsletter, it was highlighted that approximately 55% of the incidents HPP responded to were related to vagrancy and public disorder. The Monthly Performance Reports further revealed a 20% increase (125 incidents) in vagrant-related incidents in March 2023 compared to the same month in 2022 (104 incidents). Additionally, incidents involving unauthorized car guards rose by 82% (49 incidents) in March 2023 compared to March 2022 (9 incidents). These challenges, rooted in increasing poverty, unemployment, and social disconnection, are a global phenomenon.
Particularly troubling are the reports of aggression displayed by unauthorised car guards and beggars, who pressure people for cash. Regrettably, HPP PSOs lack the authority to arrest or remove individuals in such situations. Their only recourse is to seek assistance from the OM’s Law Enforcement Officers.
These issues not only affect tourism and business entities but also undermine the sense of safety and well-being for the ratepayers of Hermanus.
I have previously commended the work that the Hermanus Homeless Working Group (HHWG), under the leadership of Gerhard Smit, Overstrand Municipality Manager Social Development, is doing to address the issue of homelessness in Hermanus. The time, however, has come for leading members of our entire community to work together in addressing these issues. We need an urgent Indaba.
Although resolving the problems of vagrancy, unauthorized car guards, and homelessness falls outside the mandate of HPP, we are committed to providing support in any way we can.
HPP’s support to the OM in their disaster management response to the Eskom power outage in the period 14 to 16 June.
On Wednesday 14 June, the OM’s Protection Services requested HPP to report any disaster management related issues whilst out patrolling and monitoring the CCTV network. Our Public Safety Officers and CCTV operators were on the lookout for incidents of flooding, damage, fire, and, of course, crime. They were particularly alert to opportunities where members of the public could be assisted. HPP also communicated the OM emergency numbers to HSRA ratepayers.
Due to the extended power outage, some camera battery back-up units started to fail. Patrol vehicles and foot patrols were then dispatched to patrol and monitor hot spots.
Attempted Cable Theft Thwarted
In the early hours of Wednesday, June 14, during adverse weather conditions and the power outage, a vigilant resident from Westdene alerted the Hermanus Neighbourhood Watch to a potential cable theft in progress. The resident bravely decided to investigate further. Upon arriving at the old circus grounds, they witnessed the suspects hastily fleeing.
The Hermanus Neighbourhood Watch immediately contacted the HPP Control Room to report the attempted theft. In response, a joint operation was swiftly mobilized. The area was quickly surrounded, and an extensive search operation was initiated.
Using the HPP CCTV cameras, operators meticulously scanned the area for any signs of suspicious activity. A CCTV Operator quickly spotted three males running in the industrial area near the search location, heading towards Zwelihle. The responding officers were immediately informed, and a unit led by a HPP PSO successfully apprehended one of the suspects. Unfortunately, the other two managed to evade capture.
SAPS took custody of the apprehended suspect. Subsequently, the stolen cables were discovered at the scene, leading to the arrest of the suspect for possession of stolen property.
Despite the challenging weather conditions, the search for the remaining two suspects persisted for over an hour but, unfortunately, yielded no results. The following morning two additional bundles of cables were discovered, which were handed over to law enforcement.
This incident serves as yet another example of effective collaboration between HPP, our local Neighbourhood Watch Groups, Fidelity-ADT, Core Tactical Services, Overstrand Law Enforcement, and SAPS. It highlights the importance of efficient communication and resource integration in effectively combating crime, ultimately ensuring the safety and well-being of the community.
That is all for now and as always, I urge you to be vigilant and aware.
Jerry van Niekerk