Saturday, October 10, 2015


Dear Tourists,
City's roadside sign
with a Rasta flag
next to it.
          As you probably know Cape Town is a must see on any visit to Africa. World Travel Awards listed it as the Best Destination on the continent.
          But what has not been at all well publicised is possibly the City’s best kept secret – the spot the Rastafarian competition. And once you’ve spotted him (there could be several of them) the final part of the test is to guess what he’s up to.
          There’s a substantial prize for the winner, but for some obscure reason I can’t get the City to reveal what it is.
          It would be most unfair if what I have just told you was all you had to go on. In fact it would make the whole exercise virtually impossible. That’s bureaucracy for you.
          So I’ve decided to help at the risk of being accused of being a spoil sport by the City.
          I have just spent months trying to crack the mystery which even has the City’s own Law Enforcement officers baffled.
          This is how my investigation went.
Day 1 (20/3/2015)
I initially thought this was a National Parks (SANparks) problem as the secretive man I had seen was in the bushes on the M65 which is one of the main tourist routes to Cape Point. Where he was between Kommetjie and Scarborough is rocky mountainside that melts into fynbos covered areas that run down to Witsands, a popular surfing beach. A Landrover stopped at the side of the road and this man wearing a Rastafarian coloured beanie came out of the bushes and handed the person in the vehicle something. The transaction only took a few seconds before the Landrover was on its way again.
In the distance on the right is where the boat slipway is and this sign is
next to the road where the Rastas are in the bushes
        In an email to Gavin Bell, the SANparks manager for the area I asked: “Surely you are not allowed to trade in a national park and the real question is, ‘What is this man up to?’ He has been there for years and if you are not allowed to trade in the park why has he been allowed to do what he does, whatever that is, for so many years. One thing is certain he is not there to admire the view.”  Bell replied saying that the place where this man was “operating” was on City Council property.
Day 2 (26/3/2015)
My complaint was subsequently passed to Richard Holdstock the Council’s Area Co-ordinator, Business Areas Management by Alderman Felicity Purchase the Councillor for the area to “follow up with this illegal trader at the Witsands/Slangkop turn off.”
Day 3 (10/4/2015)
Holdstock stated: “Law Enforcement and I were out at the site this week (twice) and found no activity on both days. However we are aware that illegal trading does happen here. It really is a hit and miss approach, but we will check the weekend and deal with any illegal trading in the area.”
A Rasta in the bushes next to his very large flag with a passing
 car in the background
Day 4 (23/4/2015)
I emailed Holdstock saying: “They are there now mid-day Thursday. They fly a little flag at the side of the road to indicate where they are in the bushes and what I assume is their car is a white one parked near the cross roads.” He copied me an email he sent to some official called Steven Titus in which he said: “Can this be checked again. Complainant says they are there now.”
Day 5 (27/4/2015)
My email to Holdstock said: “They were there again about 12.15 pm yesterday.” I gave him the registration number of the car that appeared to belong to them.
Day 6 (28/4/2015)
I told Holdstock they were there at 10.00 am and their flag with the Rastafarian colours was flying next to the road.
Day 7 (7/5/2015)
“It seems odd that your guys can never find these people because every time I have been past there lately they are there,” I told Holdstock.
The Rasta, who I think is the main one, in the bushes just off the road.
He sometimes can be seen here sitting in a folding chair under an umbrella to
protect himself from the sun when it's hot
Day 8 (8/5/2015)
Holdstock sent an email to Steven Titus and Kenneth Jonathan, who I assumed were in Law Enforcement, asking them to check the place that weekend and take “positive action” if anybody was there. He copied this to me.
Day 9 (11/5/2015)
Holdstock referred me to an email he had received from Jonathan who stated that the area had been visited several times and no trading was taking place when they were there. He added that there had been a fire there recently making any “dubious activities clearly visible” so the Police (they are separate from the Council’s Law Enforcement department) would have been able to spot them.
I pointed out that they were not in the area that was burnt but in the bushes next to it and added: “If Law Enforcement can’t find them it’s best to call in the Keystone Kops because they would do a much better job. As I have already said they fly a flag to show where they are in the bushes and they are there very often. So much so that when I went there almost every day this week they were there.”

Looking for the Rastas
   I ended my email with this P.S. “For those who don’t know the Keystone Kops were fictional, incompetent policemen featured in silent film era comedies.”
Day 10 (12/8/2015)
I sent an email to Holdstock with a photograph attached of the Rastafarian’s flag, which was much larger than usual, saying: “This marks the place where he is hiding in the bushes and I don’t think he is selling flags. Hopefully this flag is big enough for Law Enforcement to see.
          “The public are supposed to be encouraged to report things that don’t appear legal, but it’s not much good if the cops say they can’t see the obvious.”
Our emails then went like this:
Holdstock - I saw the flag myself last week. Law Enforcement have been notified. Thank you for your observations, they are appreciated.
Me - Richard presumably you don’t have the power to tell Law Enforcement to actually do something.
Holdstock - It’s just a question of when they will get there, but they will go.
Day 11 (21/8/2015)
My email to him: “Surely you must agree this is absolutely ridiculous. I have been on about this for weeks (apart from the fact that this has been going on for years) and you now tell me that it’s just a question of “when” Law Enforcement will get there. Lucky it’s not a murder in progress. You saw the flag yourself and today there were two flags about 100m apart and the car was there with what looked like one hanging out of the window.
          “As I’ve said before if we had a survey that asked people why they thought the cops won’t go there I’m sure there would only be one answer. And that’s the kind of thing that is bringing this country to its knees.”
A shady character
          The same day Holdstock emailed Shaun Graham Smith, Assistant Chief, Law Enforcement with this request: “Please can your team deal with this complaint, it seems to be going on for far too long and the complainant is getting frustrated.”
Smith replied: “We will check the area again. The SAPS (South African Police Service) Ocean View (this station is five minutes drive from where the Rastafarians are and it is open countryside between the station and them), but have found no illegal substances in the vicinity or on these persons to date even when SAPS used sniffer dogs no evidence of drugs were found.
          “Law Enforcement will deal with any By Law infringement being committed on the site, but the ongoing suspicion of drug dealing must be reported by the complainant to SAPS (This was the first time since I first complained five months earlier that I was told that I was complaining to the wrong law enforcement agency) whom has the Legal mandated competency to investigate crime.”
Day 12 (27/8/2015)
Holdstock asks Smith: “Can I confirm that your team dealt with this, as I had a Rasta requesting a permit for that site. Can I respond to the complainant?”
Day 13 (28/8/2015)
Smith to Holdstock, which was copied to me: “We are doing regular checks on the trader. To date we have found nothing at the site not even goods he’s trading in. The only item on the site is a flag. What commodity is he applying for permit to sell?  The area he stands is a prohibited trading area. You need to find him an alternative spot with legal trading sites.”
Day 14 (1/9/2015)
Here’s the email conversation on that day:
Holdstock - Law Enforcement will continue to enforce illegal trading when and where it happens, but it seems that it is not happening here. The Rasta came to apply for a trading site for that particular area and my office refused his application based on the fact that the area is a ‘prohibited area’ for informal trading. This is why I know Law Enforcement has been hassling him, as the only time they approach us is when they do. We will keep him hot.”
Me - It’s painfully obvious that he is not just sitting in the bushes. Can you tell me who he is?
Holdstock - He was trying to trade at Witsands in African art. Staff cannot recall his name as it was not necessary to complete an application due to the area being prohibited.

Day 15 (2/9/2015)
Me to Holdstock: “I was at Witsands to day and there were two policemen (SAPS) in a police vehicle parked near the slipway. I went over to them and asked the driver what the Rastafarian did in the bushes. He immediately said: ‘He sells dagga (also known as cannabis, the use of which is illegal in South Africa)). He has been caught several times, but he won’t listen and keeps coming back.’
          “It seems he is well known to at least one section of the police. Perhaps the other section has its own reasons for making out they can’t find him.”
Sunday Times headline
          So the Rastafarian and his fellow Rastas will carry on doing what they have been doing for years – running rings round the Keystone Kops selling dagga beneath a City of Cape Town roadside sign on a very well known tourist route to Cape Point.
          This is in spite of the fact that Cape Town is fast gaining the reputation as the drug capital of South Africa and this is the cause of numerous gang killings.
            Don’t be surprised if travel agents start promoting “Dagga Tours to the Scenic Cape. Rasta’s specially catered for. Don’t worry if it’s illegal. We’ve got that covered.”
          Jon, who smells something extremely fishy here and it’s not the ramp where the boats are launched.

P.S. I don’t know if you have noticed but by some quirky behaviour on behalf of my computer the Days 1, 2, 3 etc in this post have ended up in the colours of the Rasta flag – and in the same order as on the flag what’s more, although possibly when the cannabis has got the better of them the colour order changes. 

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