Watches not essential service

Community police forums have been dissolved, putting pressure on police to fight crime.

Neighbourhood watches are not allowed to patrol during lockdown because they’re not regarded as essential services, but mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith hopes to change that.

Mr Smith says the City does not support the decision made by the government and police to not grant neighbourhood watches essential-services status.

“The neighbourhood watches are a critical part of the safety and security team in this City. They are more numerous than all the SAPS, traffic, Metro police and law enforcement put together.”

The City and Province would continue to request neighbourhood watch exemption from the lockdown, he said.

Mr Smith said it was likely criminals would exploit the absence of neighbourhood watches.

Parow police spokesman Captain Kevin Williams said neighbourhood watches were not deemed essential services and had to comply with the lockdown.

The police’s operational duties would continue as normal 24/7 and the Covid-19 operational plan was active, he said.

Goodwood police spokesperson Captain Wayne Theunis said their officers had been briefed on taking the necessary Covid-19 precautions.

Goodwood CPF chairman John Ross said the police would be less effective without neighbourhood watch patrols, especially when it came to reporting lockdown violations.

However, they would still have the support of City police and the army.

James Ellis, of Glenwood Neighbourhood Watch, said they had asked the community to be each others eyes and ears and stay alert and safe.

Their 24-hour emergency number would continue to be manned during the lockdown. They were also using WhatsApp to communicate.

”I appeal to our residents: let’s stand together during this period, fight this pandemic in order for our economy to recover, not only our country, but globally.”

The visibility by armed response companies would bring comfort to residents at this time, he said.

Anel Steyn, of northern suburbs security firm Byers Security Solutions, said they would be operating under the terms of their contracts with clients.

Meanwhile all Western Cape community police forums and clusters were suspended until further notice by SAPS on Thursday March 12.

Vic Barra, chairman of the Goodwood CPF, says they subsequently postponed their annual general meeting planned for Monday March 23.

Western Cape SAPS took the decision to ensure that a democratic process prevailed “according to the constitution of this country read with other relevant legislation”, said provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata.

This decision is supported by Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz who said the forums and boards were dissolved “for purposes of allowing practical and fair process”.

All CPFs were affected, including those that had not yet had valid AGMs. There are more than 90 CPFs in the province.

Cluster structures and the provincial board will also be affected.

– The City’s 107 operation centre will remain open during this period. In case of emergency call 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone.

– The City of Cape Town is establishing temporary accommodation for the homeless at the Paint City site in Bellville and other locations.

Cape Town has about 6 000 homeless people; 4 000 who sleep on the streets and 2 000 who make use of night shelters.