New chairperson for De La Haye Watch

De La Haye Neighbourhood Watch’s new chairwoman Megan Melson says security cameras have a big role to play in fighting crime in the area.

Ms Melson was elected at the watch’s annual general meeting last month, replacing her father, David Melson, who is now vice- chairman.

Ms Melson said licence-plate-recognition cameras should be installed at all the entrances and high-risk areas in the community to reduce crime in the neighbourhood.

“The use of this technology has been proven to reduce crime as the criminals know they are being watched. It also helps us detect criminal elements before and after incidents have taken place,” she said.

“As a community, we are most concerned with the increase in crime and as such our main objectives are to keep the statistics down and to keep our area secure. Ideally we would like to see people feeling safe again, walking their dogs and children riding their bicycles down the street,” she said.

Ms Melson said the watch would continue installing cameras and repairing neighbourhood fences to limit criminals’ entry and escape routes.

Bellville police spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Fienie Nimb said the burglaries during the day and thefts from cars were common crimes in the area.

“The area is an old one and there is usually not enough garages for the number of vehicles people have. This results in vehicles standing outside,” she said.

She urged residents not to leave valuables visible in their cars.

Ms Melson has been part of the watch since 2015, and was the secretary until last year.

She said her father had implemented great initiatives during his time as chairman, such as the introduction of the ham radio operator.

“A ham operator is one of the most valuable neighbours you can have in a neighbourhood watch to help get emergency messages to public safety officials in time,” she said.

“I hope not only to continue and uphold the success of the watch but also plan to improve on its efficiency,” said Ms Melson.

The watch has 21 volunteers who patrol during the day and at night and they are looking for more.

“Our role is to be the eyes and ears of the community and to share information. It’s not about putting people’s lives at risk. It is their job to alert authorities should they spot anything suspicious. More eyes and ears means better security for all,” said Ms Melson.

The 20-year-old watch is registered with the Bellville Community Police Forum (BCPF) and falls under Sector 3 of the Bellville police precinct.