Crime plagues Parow Park

A growing wave of crime is plaguing Parow Park council flats, according to a neighbourhood watch boss who told how a teen with a hockey stick assaulted him last week.

Willem Botes was patrolling the area on Friday when, he says, the 19-year-old set upon with the stick, striking him on the head and back.

He says he hasn’t laid charges because he wants to discuss what happened with the young man’s parents.

This isn’t the first time the Parow Park Neighbourhood Watch chairman has been attacked. Two years ago a resident of the complex stabbed in the left shoulder (“Parow Park residents fear for their safety,” April 20, 2016).

Last year, Louise Josephine Lourens, 73, was killed in her Parow Park home (“‘She wouldn’t harm a fly,’” Northern News, January 11 2017). Mr Botes believes crime at the complex of more than 500 flats and some 3 000 residents has spiked in recent years.

“Currently there are three flats from which drugs are being sold; house break-ins are on the rise and prostitution is rife. We currently have 15 patrollers doing the rounds, and we patrol every night and on weekends until 4am.”

Mr Botes said patrollers had had their hands full in the last month.

“Our patrollers have caught people with drugs such as mandrax and dagga. We have apprehended a few residents who have tried to steal cars and petrol from vehicles. We have also been inundated with theft-out-of-vehicle incidents, which we have reported to SAPS.

“Our main concern is the drug use in the area as well as the consumption of alcohol in public.”

Mr Botes said he met regularly with the Parow Park housing department to discuss anti-social behaviour at the complex.

“I have also escalated these issues to mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith who did a walk-about with me in the area.”

Mr Botes claimed drug dealers were frequently at the complex, delivering drugs to residents. He said a lack of police manpower was to blame for the rise in crime and that his complaints at monthly police meetings had “fallen on deaf ears”.

Mr Botes said there had been “little to no crime” in the area when he had moved in almost 30 years ago.

“I would say, crime started to peak in 2005 due to unemployment among residents. If you ride through this area during the day you see so many people standing around and also school children not attending school,” he said.

He showed the Northern News a wide range of knives, drug paraphernalia and dagga he had confiscated from residents in the past week.

“An undercover operation in November last year by police also resulted in the confiscation of 30 mandrax tablets and 36 bags of dagga from a flat, and I recently caught a man casually cutting up copper cables at one of the flats. I later learned that the copper cables were stolen from between Monte Vista and De Grendel train stations,” he said.

Mr Botes – who worked as a policeman for 24 years – said he couldn’t stand by and watch crime happening without doing something.

“I will stand up and protect this community. Residents have my cellphone number, and they know that they can contact me 24/7.”

Elizabeth Jacobs, a member of the watch for four years, said: “It’s so pathetic how our youth can destroy our communities, and their parents encourage them without correctly disciplining them.”

She said she did not feel safe living in Parow Park and had to “deal with drug dealing taking place right in front of me”.

In 2013 she had been assaulted by another resident after recovering from a stroke.

“The man hit me on the head and wanted to throw me over the balcony,” she said.

A case of attempted murder was opened, but Ms Jacobs settled the case out of court after her husband fell ill with cancer. He died recently.

“I had to move from Block 20 to Block 29 following that incident, and I am fed up with police as they don’t come out when you call them.”

Parow Community Police Forum chairman Roger Cannon said unemployment and a lack of police manpower were the root of much of Parow Park’s crime.

“I see many unemployed people loitering on street corners, and out of desperation they venture into criminal activities.”

He had met with Parow SAPS to discuss crime at the complex and escalated the issue to the CPF cluster board.

“These issues are not only present in Parow Park but all over the area. SAPS have a concentration of visible policing along Voortrekker Road and the CBD but there are often times when there is only one police van patrolling the whole of Parow. We need a solution to this problem sooner than later,” he said.

Parow police spokesman Captain Kevin Williams said police vehicles were deployed to all sectors daily, including Parow Park.

“Our designated sector manager also works closely with the Parow Park Neighbourhood Watch,” he said.

Thefts from vehicles and common assaults were prevalent in the area. “Drug-related activities are also quite prevalent in Parow Park,” he said.

Ward 2 councillor Leonore van der Walt said she had allocated “a huge percentage” of her ward budget, to be spent over several years, to fence Parow Park.

“I attend all the neighbourhood watch and Parow CPF meetings with Willem Botes and meet with him individually to assist where possible,” she said, adding: “Crime is essentially a policing issue.”