Parow Park residents fear for their safety

TASNEEM HASSAN

Residents of council flats in Parow fear for their safety after a neighbourhood watch boss was stabbed on patrol in February.

Parow Park Neighbourhood Watch chairman Willem Botes was patrolling the complex when he was stabbed with a knife in the left shoulder by a man who lives there.

The low-income housing estate, which is home to between 3 000 and 3 500 residents, has 520 flats, including one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.

Mr Botes says it’s hard to do his job and keep the community safe when he feels like his life is on the line. He needed five stitches to his shoulder after the February attack.

“They have got no respect for us. They swear at us, they treat us like we are nothing. It is as if we are fighting a losing battle. We’re trying to build a safe community for us all, but these people just don’t care,” said Mr Botes.

The sad part, he said, was many young people were among those residents who had no respect for themselves let alone others.

The watch patrols the complex three to four times a week.

Residents have also been spooked by a grisly murder at the block earlier this month. On Saturday April 2, a woman was stabbed to death, allegedly by her husband, in her Parow Park home.

The 54-year-old man appeared in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on a charge of murder.

Parow police spokesman Lieutenant Kevin Williams said the couple had argued about money and the woman had threatened to kick her husband out of the flat.

He had then fetched a knife from the kitchen and plunged it into her chest, slitting her throat as she collapsed.

Neighbourhood watch secretary Elizabeth Jacobs also fears going out on patrol and says she has to watch her back all the time.

“Our homes are supposed to be places of safety, but that isn’t the case here. We live in fear every single day, as we don’t know what the next day holds. There are way too many people that have access to the park,” she said.

She says it’s unfair that a community the elders built up is broken down by a younger generation with no care for others.

Resident Neels van Zyl echoes these sentiments.

He worries about both his and his children’s safety. “The kids’ lives are at risk. It is so unsafe in Parow Park, and we are trying to make a difference so the kids can have a better life.”

They do what they do, he says, because they love the community.

Hester Groenewald, the watch’s radio controller, agrees and says someone needs to set an example for a younger generation stalked by drugs and gangsterism.

”We keep patrolling and trying to make a difference even though our lives are at risk. We want to build a brighter future and show the children that there is more to life than just drugs and crime.”

The residents complained about “dodgy” people moving into the park.

Benedicta van Minnen, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said those qualifying to live at the complex had to be on the City’s housing datababase and could not be property owners or recipients of state housing subsidies. And their monthly household income had to be less than R3 500.

Ms Van Minnen said the Parow Park housing office worked closely with the complex’s committee and neighbourhood watch and meetings were held regularly to discuss all issues affecting the community.

She said the City planned to fence the ground-floor flats once funds became available.