CBCSI: Camps Bay Community Safety Initiative

Everything you need to know about CBCSI

What is CBCSI?

The Camps Bay Community Safety Initiative, or CBCSI, is an initiative set- up by members of the Camps Bay community to safeguard and improve the security of all residents of Camps Bay, Clifton and Bakoven. It is sometimes easier to remember Camps Bay CSI.

Why was CBCSI set-up?

CBCSI was started in 2007 because crime was out of control, armed response, on its own, was clearly insufficient, and numerous gaps existed in our policing and criminal justice system. The community had to pool resources together and work out measures that would be more effective against crime.

What is the legal structure of CBCSI?

CBCSI operates through The Camps Bay and Clifton Safe Community Trust (Reg No: IT2937/2010). The Trust is a non-profit PBO (a Public Benefit Organization), which means that all its income is applied towards the objectives of securing the Community. The Trust is governed by a trust deed that covers things like how decisions are made. The income comes entirely from voluntary donations, which are tax deductible under S18(a) of the Income Tax Act.

Who are the Trustees?

The Trustees of the Trust that governs CBCSI are:

  • Ian Merrington
  • Spencer McNally
  • Wayne Smith
  • Mark Myerson

All Trustees must be residents of our community. It is important to note that the Trustees are all volunteers and carry out their roles without remuneration, despite carrying all the responsibility and spending countless hours on strategy, management, stakeholder meetings, operations, financial management and community engagement.


Camps Bay WatchCon

021 438 2000

Community emergency and incident control room. Please report any suspicious activity and all crime incidents to WatchCon. Our Tactical Unit is immediately directed to the location of the problem. The more information we have the greater our impact will be.

Contact Mark Myerson at [email protected] for financial information on CBCSI or the Trust

Contact Bernard Scháfer at [email protected] for crime related or operational information on CBCSI

For CBCSI Crime Channel on Telegram Messenger, please contact Sarah Meder [email protected]

For new members, contributions and debit order forms, please contact Janette Hodgkinson [email protected]

Camps Bay beach with Lions Head in the background. Only enjoyed if safe.

We are a community.
Please pay your share.

The moral imperative to contribute to CBCSI

There is a moral imperative to support CBCSI because the benefits accrue to the whole community, which include you and your family, but are funded by a portion of the community. Security is a matter of life and death. The consequences of serious crime are traumatic but can be prevented. The more resources we have, the more we can do, and all funds are for the benefit of the community. CBCSI is not a private organization, so nobody makes a profit from your contribution.

Contribute because it's the right thing to do.

Contribute because you belong to a community.

Contribute because we are only as strong as our collective strength.

What does CBCSI do?

Operational Services

a) The Camera Project:

CBCSI monitors and maintains over 60 cameras in Camps Bay, Clifton and Bakoven, and we continue to install new ones at key points in the suburb. Keeping the bandwidth and network running for these cameras is no small technical feat. Some of the cameras have license plate recognition software and are plugged into the Western Cape LPRUG network. The software has proven effective. The cameras have helped catching criminals and providing evidence for prosecution. The cameras identify incidents as they happen and record footage for later analysis.

b) Watch Control Centre (WatchCon):

CBCSI funds, staffs and manages WatchCon as well as the "021-438-2000" number for incident reporting and emergencies. WatchCon gathers intelligence and responds to emergencies. WatchCon also plays the critical role of coordinating resources within the community. With a single call, WatchCon can mobilize TAC1 (see next item), various armed response vehicles, medics, SAPS and our operational command.

c) TAC1 Armed Unit:

This is the dedicated armed vehicle that provides backup for ADT and Bay Response if there is an incident at your home and maintains security for the common areas of our suburb - streets, parks, beachfront, green areas etc that are not covered by armed response. If you see someone suspicious in the street and report this to WatchCon, TAC1 will respond.

d) Operations Commander:

CBCSI has it's own operations commander (Bernard Scháfer) who overseas crime intelligence, special operations and all operational crime assets of our community, in addition to liaising with the police and assisting with crime scene management and criminal prosecutions. Bernard provides this service to the community in addition to being Chairman of the Camps Bay Community Police Forum and helping to manage Camps Bay Watch. Bernard also provides investigative capacity and manages the CERT (citizen emergency response team).

e) CBCSI Crime Channel on Telegram Messenger:

This is our mobile communications channel, launched in October 2016, for disseminating real-time crime information, notifications and incident reports directly to your cell phone. We call it a channel because it carries one-way communications, so we don't have hundreds of messages beeping constantly from everyone on the channel. The Crime Channel is only for paying members who support CBCSI by direct payment to the Trust. You can be sure that information provided on the channel is always reliable and responsible.

f) Common Radio Network:

CBCSI maintains a common radio network so that all resources can be coordinated. ADT, Bay Response, SAPS, Community Medics, CERT, TAC1 and CBCSI Operational Command are all on the network, as well as community members of CBCSI who have purchased radios.

g) Admin and Collections:

CBCSI has administration capability to take care of accounting, day-to-day general administration, collections, audit, database management, technology, debit order management, customer service, member queries and email communication.

Strategy & Leadership Services

CBCSI provides the community with strategic direction and leadership, so that we stay abreast of crime developments and use our assets effectively. CBCSI needs to stay up to date, we need to make sure we are financially sustainable and we must build capability to counter crime threats in the future. When it happens, it's too late to prepare.

We also work with other crime fighting organizations such as armed response and SAPS to coordinate resources, share information and fight crime collectively, and we need to maintain relationships with stakeholder organizations in the community like the Camps Bay Business Forum and Camps Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association. Lastly, but importantly, CBCSI maintains member communication and engagement so that the community buys into and supports what we are doing for the collective good.

Financial Information, Governance and Decision Making

The Trust is audited by Nolands Inc. Financial statements of the Trust are available on request from Mark Myerson at [email protected] Decisions of the Trust are made through regular trustee meetings and close workings with our Operational Command and other stakeholders.

Cameras, radios, equipment, IT infrastructure and WachCon add up to a hefty capital investment. It is important to note that this capital, running into the millions, comes from the donations of a few individuals in our community, who don't want any public recognition. Without their generosity, CBCSI wouldn't exist.

Because the time spent by the Trustees is provided without remuneration, what is left for the community to cover is the monthly operating budget to run CBCSI and provide the operational services. This budget is approximately R150,000 per month, funded from the recurring donations of about 550 members. Currently, the minimum donation is R250 per month or R3,000 per annum, although some members of the community donate much more, in some cases running into hundreds of thousands per annum.

Prior to 2016, the CBCSI donations were paid to the armed response companies (either Bay Response or ADT) on behalf of CBCSI. This hasn't been an ideal situation for a number of reasons, so from April 2016, we have started converting these payments so that they are made directly to the Trust, which allows better control and more reliable member information, in addition to a VAT saving on each contribution. Payments directly to the Trust do not attract VAT, allowing the full amount to be used for security services. We encourage all members to convert their payments directly to the Trust.

It is worth re-emphasizing that the monthly budget for CBCSI takes no account of the hundreds of hours of unpaid input of the Trustees, and a number of other volunteers, including Camps Bay Watch Sector Heads and patrollers. Given the worsening security situation in South Africa and the imperative to maintain the hard won reputation of Camps Bay as a low crime area, the monthly spend for the services provided by CBCSI should be much higher, bearing in mind that members haven't contributed any capital and continue to benefit freely from the time of the Trustees and other volunteers.

It should also be noted that CBCSI is stretched financially. We run things as tightly as possible. Every rand is used wisely. Financially, we are a very efficient non-profit organization. But we could provide even better security, improve our technology and member services, and secure our sustainability if more people contributed. Considering the value of homes in our privileged community, R250 is really a very small price to pay.

The 550 members of CBCSI comprise less than 22% of the estimated households in Camps Bay, Clifton and Bakoven. If this number was raised to 60%, we would be able to expand our program and effectively rid Camps Bay of the niggling crime that still exists and which is sometimes still serious. In reality, perhaps taking aside our general political environment, crime is the only real barrier to Camps Bay becoming one of the most desirable places in the world to live and to holiday.

What would CBCSI do with more paying members?

There are many important things CBCSI still needs to do. Some of these include:

  • An upgrade of the WatchCon Centre, both in terms of working space and of camera monitoring capacity.
  • Adding additional TAC vehicles and providing better localized coverage for crime hotspots.
  • Increasing the strategic placement of cameras in high risk areas.
  • Increasing the frequency of education and awareness to residents.
  • Improving our member services, technology and communication.
  • Specific fund raising projects.
  • Providing a better, more caring solution to vagrants, drug addicts, and others who are often a catalyst for crime.
  • Enhancing our intelligence gathering capability.
  • Providing a residential security review service for CBCSI members to evaluate and, if necessary, upgrade their home security.
  • Liaise with and support SAPS, who increasingly show signs of restricted funding, poor training, and collapsing morale.
  • Upgrade and clear unoccupied areas in the greenbelts and mountain areas adjacent to the suburb, from where crime emanates;

We need you. Please contribute.

If you are not already a paying member of CBCSI, please join by completing the debit order form provided, which entitles CBCSI to process a debit order on your account, presently R250 per month. This is our preferred method for collecting payment as it keeps our administration costs low.

Download the Debit Order Form

You will receive a Section 18A certificate each year, entitling you to deduct your contribution from your taxable income.

One of the biggest challenges we face is community apathy, caused partly by people not understanding what CBCSI does, and more importantly, what would happen if CBCSI weren’t around. The Trustees are presently focused on increasing community awareness.

Many well-meaning members of our community naively think that armed response is sufficient for their security needs. It is important to note a few truths:

Download the Debit Order Form

A community is only as safe as it’s public space.

Even if one builds a fortress, one still has to come and go from public space, and your security at home cannot transcend the security of the community in which it exists.

Secondly, who wants to live in a place where we don’t feel safe outside our home? Armed response doesn’t deal with this. CBCSI does.

Thirdly, you are never as safe in your home as you think you are. Having the extra capability of CBCSI in our community is not only comforting, but is essential.

Armed response is not sufficient in an emergency. The one-guy-in-a-car needs backup, assuming he arrives on time and everything works as planned. CBCSI is there when it doesn’t.

All the services provided by CBCSI are designed to prevent crime; armed response is designed to counter crime when it is occurring. Most would agree that prevention is better than drama!

In the unfortunate event of something serious happening at your home, you want CBCSI around to deal with the various things that need to happen afterwards – trust us on that. We hope you never need these services but things like crime scene management, victim support and counseling, police liaison, evidence gathering and prosecution support, and post-event special operations do not happen, unfortunately, without CBCSI.

How do you benefit directly from CBCSI?

Some of the benefits of CBCSI accrue to the whole community, even those who don't pay. You may therefore ask, "Why should I bother to pay"? We hope we've made a good case for the essential value of CBCSI, the moral imperative to contribute, the principle of fairness and the support of your community, but here are some of the direct benefits:

  • With additional contributions, CBCSI can improve its services and capability. Please refer to the section "What Would CBCSI Do With More Paying Members"? We believe these projects will enhance your lifestyle, your family's safety, and the value of your property.
  • A CBCSI sign for the entrance of your home, identifying you as a CBCSI member. While non-members will not be denied help in an emergency, this will help our operators (and your neighbours) identify who contributes.
  • Access to our Crime Channel on Telegam, the mobile app for immediate information about security, crime and related matters on your smartphone.
  • Immediate emergency access to WatchCon and TAC1 by radio, although you will need to purchase the radio.
  • Discounts at participating shops and restaurants on the "Camps Bay Strip".

Do we need both armed response and CBCSI?

Although we hope we've answered this question convincingly, it is asked so frequently and is so fundamental to what we do, it's worth repeating. So, please read the section "We Need You. Please Contribute" carefully.

CBCSI is complementary to armed response. Both are essential for a safe community. Without either, a community in South Africa, particularly an affluent one, quickly becomes unsafe. We support and work closely with ADT and Bay Response.

Having a community security presence and having armed response linked to an alarm signal is best practice in residential security. Some communities, like many in Johannesburg's northern suburbs, have an integrated service such as CAP (ie community and armed response combined), and some communities, like ours, provide these services through separate entities. The important point is that both are necessary!

Please therefore support CBCSI. We are your community safety.

What does Camps Bay Watch do?

Camps Bay Watch (CBW) is a neighbourhood watch program, where ordinary residents, after receiving basic training, patrol the suburb after dark to provide "feet on the ground" and "eyes and ears". The purpose is to report any matter of concern, whether of major or minor importance, and to act as a general deterrent. On occasion citizen groups are brought together for one-off operations, such as sweeps of areas where there is a perceived high risk.

Camps Bay watch doesn't have financial resources or infrastructure. It is a pure volunteer organization. What is important to note is that the radio network used by CBW is manned by CBCSI's WatchCon and reports of any kind are acted on by CBCSI. Camps Bay Watch, on it's own, doesn't have the "sharp-end" capability to act with any force or respond to emergencies.