City officials have praised Khayelitsha’s neighbourhood watch volunteers for their crime-fighting efforts.
Mayor Dan Plato and JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, joined the volunteers as they patrolled Litha Park and Site B on Thursday February 11.
Mr Plato said the watch members volunteered out of love for their community, even though they sometimes had to face threats and danger.
Neighbourhood watches were an invaluable link in the chain of community safety, he said. Crime prevention, he added, worked best with a collective effort and everyone had a duty to play a part in making their neighbourhood safer.
Over the past decade, neighbourhood watches had continued to grow and were now a key part of crime prevention in communities across the city, he said.
“As the City of Cape Town, we need to assist the neighbourhood watch groups as far as possible. Our involvement during this visit is to encourage and inspire them to continue doing their sterling work,” he said.
“The visits are also intended as a way for residents to engage directly with officials on any service-delivery issues. Some of the concerns that were raised included fused street lights, blocked drains and… illegal dumping on land next to Usasazo High School in Site B.”
Neighbourhood watches helped law enforcement, Mr Plato said, by alerting police to suspicious activity, identifying stolen property, doing home security surveys and building a sense of responsibility in the community.
Mr Smith said neighbourhood watches increased the city’s policing services and reach. But most importantly, he added, they were law enforcement’s eyes and ears and were a visible presence in the community. And often they were the first to respond to crimes.
“There’s a large network of neighbourhood watch groups in Khayelitsha, with great coordinators and active volunteers,“ he said.
“We are hoping to move forward as quickly as possible with the volunteer Law Enforcement Auxiliary Service to train up more people from the neighbourhood watch to be fully-uniformed auxiliary members with powers, so they can help their neighbourhood watches patrol.
“A good portion of the neighbourhood watches’ members are auxiliary Law Enforcement Officers or reservists from Khayelitsha, and I’m proud to see them here.
“The challenges that they face here are tougher than some of the other communities, and I really take my hat off to them.”
Mr Smith said the value of their contribution was evident when the top-performing groups and individuals, at the City’s annual neighbourhood watch awards, frequently came from Khayelitsha.
Ilitha Park Neighbourhood Watch organiser Benedicta Nzotho said they were pleased with the support they had received from the City.
Ms Nzotho urged the community to protect the watch members and work together so that the neighbourhood could be a safer place to live.