Volunteer crime fighters dig deep to protect Brackenfell

Brackenfell CPF project manager Trevor de Bruin spends about ten hours a week patrolling the neighbourhood.

Trevor de Bruin clocks in at least 10 hours a week patrolling Brackenfell, and he, like other crime fighters, often pays out of his pocket for petrol and patrolling gear.

Mr De Bruin is a car-dealership manager and also the project manager of the Brackenfell Community Police Forum. He bought a Ford Fiesta for R160 000 specifically for patrols and it carries the CPF’s logo on its bonnet.

The car is fitted with two-way radio and a device that activates an array of lights during patrols.

More than a dozen men, including a senior police official, private security guards and neighbourhood watch and CPF members, meet in the parking lot of the Protea Heights Checkers every night at 9pm for a briefing between the patrols.

At the briefing last Saturday night, after an hour-long blitz by patrollers of police sectors 1, 2 and 3, Brackenfell visible policing head Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Jacobs told the group there had been a house robbery in Brackenfell in the last week, and on Friday morning March 11, working with City Law Enforcement and traffic services, they had confiscated 20 taxis and issued 1 280 fines worth more than R800 000.

“This job makes me chilled and gives me a sense of understanding of the community,” Mr De Bruin says. “You want to be aware of what’s going on your area.”

He is quick to admit that patrols give him a rush of adrenaline. But last Saturday night was quiet. “Which is a good thing,” he says. “Sometimes you’ll get action, sometimes it’s dead quiet.”

Mr De Bruin’s Telegram app pings as we drive past a camera fitted on an entrance street in Morgenster. According to Mr De Bruin, the fence around the suburb is constantly breached by people walking through from Northpine.

The Telegram messages are automatically sent from cameras in Brackenfell neighbourhoods to warn him and others about movements into an area. Some of the cameras boast licence-plate-recognition technology.

Mr De Bruin spends about R500 each week on petrol for his patrol car. “I do about 10 hours a week. You can clock on and off as you like.”

He bought the car for patrolling after a drunk-driver rear-ended his Isuzu bakkie, causing R15 000 in damage.

He and other patrollers have also bought their own bullet-proof vests, which cost R3 500 each, although he wasn’t wearing his on Saturday night.

“What you put in is what you get out. The more you put in, the better,” Mr De Bruin says.

He says registered CPFs get an annual grant from the Department of Community Safety (Docs), but the Brackenfell CPF has not yet received its grant for this year.

Docs spokesman Ishaam Davids says the department still provides project funding, which is limited to R5 000 a year, to all certified CPFs in the province.

“The funding was made available during the current financial year; and will be made available during the next financial year.”

Mr De Bruin has organised a fund-raiser for the CPF at Red Properties, 35 Protea Road, Brackenfell, this Saturday, from 9am. Among other things, there will be boerewors rolls and burgers as well as jumping castles and face painting for children.

Brackenfell CPF chairman Werner Victor says: “I only have the world of respect for the volunteers working countless hours in keeping the community of Brackenfell safe.”