24HR emergency NUMBER: 082 415 7127 report an incident

The role of the CCID in a pandemic

The role of the CCID in a pandemic

17 April 2020

In times like these, when everything is uncertain and our very existence is threatened, city improvement districts like the Cape Town Central City Improvement District deliver a crucial, stabilising service. CCID CEO Tasso Evangelinos explains why.

In the first three days of South Africa’s lockdown, the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) apprehended scores of hopeful criminals attempting to break into businesses and cars in the deserted Cape Town CBD. The crimes were sporadic and opportunistic, confirms CCID CEO Tasso Evangelinos, but they raised the not-for-profit company’s Safety & Security department’s success rate of catching criminals to 98 %.

While the criminals were chancers, the fact that they were caught had nothing to do with chance. When the National State of Disaster was announced, Tasso and his team swiftly shifted their strategy to ensure the CCID, the largest of its kind in South Africa and the most successful, continues to deliver on its mandate to keep the city centre safe and clean, even while the CBD isn’t open for business.


During this unprecedented time, the CCID like many other City Improvement Districts (CIDs) has nimbly adapted to ‘business unusual’. Its teams on the ground join the ranks of many unsung heroes on the frontline.

Tasso says that right now, as well as providing essential services, CIDs are playing a pivotal role as communication and solutions facilitators, “We’ve stepped up our distribution of information to all stakeholders to ensure everyone is constantly updated. It’s also our role to mediate between parties to foster solutions. We’re constantly adapting as we go. Every day is a learning opportunity. The role of a CID is to be consistently reliable in order to give stakeholders peace of mind. We will always answer the phone. We’re here 24/7. We’re active remotely and operationally.”

Above: CCID essential services workers on duty in the Cape Town CBD.


Some of the biggest concerns during Lockdown centre around crime and grime. “The CCID’s Safety & Security and Urban Management departments are fully operational. However, our strategies have changed. During Lockdown, we’ve altered our security agenda to focus on the safekeeping of property, possessions and people. Our cleaning strategy has also shifted. All areas continue to be covered, but we’re focusing on deep cleaning particular spaces.”

Staggered shifts have been introduced and the teams have been trained in Covid-19 protection protocols, “The safety and wellbeing of our operational teams will always be our top priority.” He says that all non-essential CCID staff who can do so are working remotely.

Above: A CCID Public Safety Officer (PSO) on duty during Lockdown in the CBD.


One of the biggest challenges that CIDs and other essential service providers face right now is the unexpected cost of materials. Panic buying has taken a substantive toll; hand sanitiser, masks and gloves are difficult and expensive to acquire, with prices skyrocketing as demand increases. Tasso recently purchased hand sanitiser, paying R800 per 25 litres. The price has since increased to R2 500 per 25 litres. “It is very difficult for an NPO to sustain paying these kinds of prices, but the safety of staff is important and we are prepared to make the sacrifice for our staff and our NGO partners who are delivering an essential service.”

Tasso recently purchased disposable masks for the team at R30 a unit, which can only be worn once. He has since found a supplier in CBD retailer Mike’s Sports which will be making reusable, washable fabric masks. “We have ordered 1 200 and will be donating masks to our NGO partners and offering them to our other service providers at cost.” He is also grateful for the CCID Social Development department's recent collaboration with Cape Town Together's CBD CAN (Community Action Network) which has donated 500 masks (supplied by Ballo and Enkosi Bags, with assistance from the Gabriel family) for distribution by its six NGO partners in the CBD.

Tasso appealed for donations of sanitiser and masks or funds to assist the purchasing of these crucial items to keep essential workers protected as they do their work. As well as protective personal equipment, the CCID and its partners are providing ongoing training and have rigorous hygiene safety measures in place.

Above: CCID Social Development field worker Shanien Stemmet assists at Service Dining Rooms which is serving meals to the homeless.


Besides security and cleaning, CIDs can also play a crucial role in social development. Tasso says, “Our Social Development team has adapted the way it is helping the homeless during this time. Right now, we’re facilitating donations alongside our NGO partners and assisting with centralised feeding schemes to try to meet the huge need on the street. We’ve asked food producers to help us by delivering items in bulk to ensure a continuous flow of food.”

When the lockdown began, the CCID provided at least 1 000 bars of soap, 300 face cloths, about 70 hygiene care bags and 20 blankets to the homeless at the new Secure Safe Space temporary shelter next to the existing Culemborg Safe Space before the City started moving people to the Strandfontein site; 80 hygiene care bags have also been donated to Youth Solutions Africa and 30 to The Haven Night Shelter in Napier Street.

Tasso says that internationally, CIDs often aren’t as active in essential services as they are in South Africa, “Their function is frequently more communication-focused, whereas here, CIDs with operational ability are extremely active in providing essential cleaning services, support to the police, and distributing information.”

He concludes by thanking his team, without whom the CCID would not be able to deliver on its mandate, “I would like to thank our team for everything you’re doing for your country. Thank you for putting yourselves on the frontline to keep our city safe. Thank you for your courage in these extraordinary times. We will continue to be tested. We will laugh through it with our unique humour as South Africans. We will come through this together.”

IMAGES: Lisa Burnell, Nicky Newman, CCID

Tags: CCID; Cape Town Central City Improvement District; coronavirus pandemic; CIDs; BIDs; essential services Cape Town lockdown