Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Newcastle CBD is fast developing a subculture of open and accepted petty crime. After publishing continuous articles reporting on the crime stats and after speaking with businesses dealing with this new norm, we take you into their world to obtain a better understanding.
H.Z. Haniff and Yusuf Randeree of Scott Street Pharmacy explain that a number of their clientele now opt for deliveries rather than coming into town out of fear. Furthermore, Jan Espach of Transponder Key Centre in Harding Street states that crime affects every business in town due to people being scared of making their way into the CBD.
As a result of various businesses in Scott Street dealing with robberies, Haniff and Randeree explain, to ensure their customers’ safety, they have employed a full-time security guard. Haniff elaborates, “We have employed a security guard from Ithemba Security, who stands by the door and keeps an eye on our customers as they leave the store and make their way to their cars.”
However, criminals appear to be unthreatened but are rather as Ismail Desai of Jadwat’s Cycle in Allen Street states, “Becoming more visible in the CBD.” He continues to say, pickpocketing is a significant issue in the vicinity, deterring people from the once-popular street.
Additionally, Espach of Transponder Key Centre discusses when this behavioural change began. “Crime has always been there, but since the lockdown started last year, criminals are not scared anymore. It has almost become normal.” Furthermore, he explains, snatch and grabs and theft from motor vehicles are a regular occurrence. “Elderly people are especially targeted when they are in town.”
Sadly in South Africa, it is now an accepted mentality for us to believe we must hide our phones or jewellery before going to the CBD—revealing the impact of the crime culture on ordinary people’s psyche and lives. In light of this crime culture, Haniff and Randeree say negligence does play a role in opportunistic crime. “There have been people sitting in their cars, busy on their phones, with their windows open. Or people walking with their jewellery and cellphones on display,” states Randeree. This, he feels, gives the criminal element an opportunity for their misdeeds.
With each of the four discussing their concerns, they all feel a large, active police presence would contribute to a decline.
Espach explains, “Police should do more foot patrols and show more visibility in town, not just driving around.” Desai agrees and adds that he was recently visiting the South Coast, where he witnessed the success of police visibility and how it enhances security. “I saw the police almost everywhere there, and if we can have police patrolling more, it will help. “Haniff and Randeree add that they have seen how traffic officers being visible at the Allen Street and Scott Street intersection have contributed to minimising traffic violations and criminal activities. “If police can do the same and stop at areas in town, with their vehicles and patrol in their uniforms, it will act as a deterrent.”
Through the respective business community’s input, what impact do you feel the crime culture has had on Newcastle? Share your views in the comment section below.