Crime blitz initiative protects students and teachers

Patrollers, who keep an eye on teachers and pupils, with their new biycles. They say attacks have come down since they started the patrols.

A joint crime prevention initiative between a college, the community, the police and the private sector has dramatically reduced crime in a Cape Town suburb to providing a safe environment for education.

In fact, the success of the patrol campaign by the Khayelitsha campus of False Bay Technical and Vocational Education and Training College, along with the area’s community police forum (CPF), the local police station and a leading mobile network company, has been so successful that Western Cape authorities are considering extending it to other crime hotspots.

Haido Mtetwa, head of the campus, recently presented the initiative to a cluster safety meeting which was attended by, among others, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato, who requested further engagement to see its viability for consideration elsewhere.

The project started two years ago when students became soft targets of criminals on their way to and from the campus.

“Every morning my office used to be flooded by students with complaints of attacks and robberies, and I would spend most of my days taking the victims to the police station to open cases,” Mr Mteto remembers.

The situation led to a huge drop in student attendance, with many eventually dropping out of college as they feared for their safety.

Mr Mteto said the campus tapped into their good relationship with the community and established a programme to patrol all the problematic routes leading to the campus.

The deal is for the CPF, who are working hand in hand with the cops, to strategically patrol routes from all bus and taxi stops as well as from the railways stations to the campus from 7am to 9pm.

In appreciation, the college gives patrollers a monthly stipend.

But they found it difficult to get to crime scenes at times and the mobile company came on board with a donation of 10 bicycles. That help the patrollers not only catch criminals, but to also escort students to and from their stops.

“Since then, there has been almost a zero crime rate towards our staff and students, and our teaching and learning is doing very well.

“The community is benefiting too as pupils of the neighbouring schools and residents attest that they don’t get robbed anymore.”

Mr Mteto, who is also the secretary of the Khayelitsha Education Forum, says he supports calls to extend the programme.

“This kind of initiative is important as it augments the work of the police because cops cannot be everywhere. Crime in our communities is affected many programmes, especial at schools.”

Nkululeko Makangela, head of the patrollers, said they are well-received in the community and his members don’t only protect members of the college but the community at large as well as visitors.