Neighbourhood watch swops phones for radios

Kuils River CPF spokesman, Winston Davids, far left, at the workshop.

Safety and security mayoral committee member, JP Smith, says the City will be giving neighbourhood watches radios and computer tablets to help them keep crime off the streets.

He was speaking at a two-day Department of Community Safety workshop on policing needs and priorities attended by more than a hundred community police forum and neighbourhood watch members, including those from Kuils River, at the Delft civic centre from Friday July 1.

Winston Davids, Kuils River CPF spokesman, said the City’s pledge at the meeting to give the Sector 2 neighbourhood watch, and others, radios was most welcome.

Mr Davids, who is also a member of the Sector 2 neighbourhood watch, which covers Soneike and Kalkfontein, said the radios would be a relief for members, most of whom are unemployed, who have had to make do with using their cellphones and their own airtime.

The City has yet to let them know when they will have the radios. Mr Davids said the workshop had been useful.

“We learned a lot about how other CPFs operate within our cluster. We thought the workshop was a good idea, and we should have many more of these.”

At the workshop, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said training neighbourhood watch and CPF members was key to addressing policing needs and priorities. Issues raised at the workshop would form a part of the department’s safety plan.

He also urged CPF and neighbourhood members to detach from political parties ahead of the August 3 municipal elections.

“We will ask members who go into politics to be removed,” he said to loud applause. Mr Smith said communities needed to find a way around the drug problem plaguing Cape communities, and he conceded there had been stumbling blocks for both communities and the City.

He said the City’s crime-prevention strategies had become “SAPS-lite” because the City and police had not forged a strong relationship.

He criticised the SAPS for not sharing crime statistics with the City’s safety and security directorate, although he hoped that would change following an announcement by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe on Thursday June 9 that crime stats would now be released quarterly to allow the government to respond to crime trends.

Mr Smith encouraged the communities to use the City’s call centre for crime complaints. This helped the City determine crime hot spots and the information was shared with the SAPS.

He bemoaned what he perceived to be a lack of crime intelligence gathering by the police, saying: “The absence of crime intelligence policing has crippled policing in South Africa. Just driving up and down the street would only take you so far. It’s a placebo. It’s a substitute for good policing, which is good crime intelligence – knowing who your suspects are, identifying them and arresting them. That is not happening.”