Call for neighbourhood watch volunteers

Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith. Picture: KAREN WATKINS

The City of Cape Town is calling on all neighbourhood watches who are accredited with the Department of Community Safety to join its volunteer database.

At a briefing at the Disaster Risk Management Centre in Goodwood, Mayco member for safety and security Smith announced a move to recruit 1 400 neighbourhood watch members and certify them so they can patrol school grounds and promote physical distancing and the use of sanitiser in queues at clinics, shops, supermarket transport interchanges.  

Volunteers recruited from neighbourhood watches will be deployed in their home area as this will promote acceptance by local communities and will prevent unnecessary logistical arrangements, said Mr Smith.

Initially, neighbourhood watches were not allowed to patrol during lockdown because they’re not regarded as essential services (Read more here).

But Mr Smith said the neighbourhood watches were a critical part of the safety and security team in this City. There are 23 000 accredited neighbourhood watch patrollers, more than all the SAPS, traffic, Metro police and law enforcement put together, he added. 

Vic Barra, chairman of Monte Vista / Plattekloof Glen Neighbourhood Watch said this was a good initiative as watch members were known to the community and are familiar with the various local challenges and problem areas.

Shakir “Shrek” Smith, chairman of the recently formed Parow West Neighbourhood Watch, said there had been prior discussions leading up to this move. However, they could not apply as their accreditation had been put on hold until the pandemic is over. “We could have played an essential role in many areas, roadblocks, testing and more. Who better than one’s own resident neighbourhood watch, said Shakir Smith.

“Local government has seen the need for our services and have been turned down on more than one occasion. I absolutely respect them for their farsightedness in this regard,” said Shakir Smith.

Meanwhile there has been a spike in school, business and factory robberies and hijackings. Parow police spokesperson Captain Kevn Williams, however, could not confirm this and said all coronavirus (Covide-19) media requests must be forwarded to provincial media centre.

Spokesperson for the Western Cape Education Department, Bronagh Hammond said 16 cases of burglary and vandalism had been reported between when schools closed on Friday March 20 and Tuesday March 31.  

Ms Hammond said most incidents occurred during the day . “In some of the cases, the perpetrators were interrupted and chased by security or the police. We again appeal to all communities to please report any suspicious behavior in, and around, our schools. During a lockdown such as this, there should be no reason for anyone to be in our schools, unless there is a caretaker or teacher that lives on site,” said Ms Hammond.

All accredited neighbourhood watches within the City’s boundaries may nominate not more than 10 of their members for appointment as disaster risk management volunteers. Neighbourhood watch coordinators, and not individual members, can communicate the names and contact details of the volunteers to Charl Viljoen, email charl.viljoen@capetown.gov.za