Residents called to be eyes and ears of watch

LIZAHN WENTZEL

Oakdale Watch (OW) is calling on residents to join its newly-formed Eyes and Ears WhatsApp group to fight crime in the neighbourhood.

The group, which will help patrollers stay alert to suspicious activities was started after a Sector 1 meeting discussed ways of tackling problems in Oakdale, Boston and Bellville. But Arno Barnard of OW said it needed community support to make it an effective tool.

“We are struggling to get residents from Oakdale to help us patrol during the day and at night. We need more patrollers to be our eyes and ears in the community,” he said, adding the group had been started to get residents to talk to one another and report suspicious activities.

“Business owners can help the police by sharing CCTV footage and reporting suspicious activities or vehicles in the area. In this way, the police can build information and take action,” said Mr Barnard.

The Sector 1 meeting heard that while crimes against businesses had stabilised, there was a growing number of drug addicts on the streets.

Boston Neighbourhood Watch (BNW) chairman Stefan Fourie said that last year this time there had been about 12 known drug users in the area, and now there were about 80.

“They focus on soft targets, like school children and the elderly, to fund their habit,” he said.

The watch has formed the BNW Rehabilitation Program, in partnership with Mould Empower Serve (MES) and the Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District (VRCID), to help those who wish to become rehabilitated.

Mr Barnard stressed the WhatsApp group was aimed at the Oakdale community in a bid to reduce crime and recruit more patrollers. “OW patrolled over 270 hours in March, which has helped to decrease crime,” he said.

* Anyone who would like to join the group can contact Petri Strydom at 084 903 2111 or Mr Barnard at 082 474 0448.