Members of the Masincedane Neighbourhood Watch said they are passionate about helping to keep their community safer, but desperately unhappy about what they feel is unfair treatment by their leader.
The patrollers, most of them women – who operate in Site C, Khayelitsha, this week threatened to hang up their bibs and withdraw their contribution to keeping the streets safer unless Bukelwa Mnqubevu resigns or pays them the money they feel they are owed.
While the patrollers are volunteers, they want their share of the funding given to the watch by the Department of Community Safety, with which it is registered.
Department spokesperson Cayla Murray confirmed that the neighbourhood watch was registered and had been receiving funding from them since July through the Neighbourhood Watch Covid-19 project.
Patrollers Athenkosi Mzamo, Nozinzile Fana, Fezeka Tapa and Khunjulwa Ntsimbi said they felt discouraged that their leader paid some patrollers but not others.
“She paid R300 to people she loves. Eight of us never get that. She again, paid R500 to others. We are not happy.
We thought with the little money we get from the donors we can buy uniforms like tracksuits for the team and do some neighbourhood watch programmes that we are expected to do but she enriches herself,” said Ms Mzamo.
The group said they have reported her to the Community Policing Forum but did not get a response.
Ms Ntsimbi added that they had played an important role in the neighbourhood watch since its inception in 2016.
“We don’t have time to rest. We work from Sunday to Sunday, patrolling this dangerous Site C. We wake up at 3am and this is how she rewards us. We joined this to protect this community and get whatever we get in return not to be abused by one woman,” she said.
A discouraged Ms Tapa said residents of Site C were unable to fight crime alone – which is why they opted to take the bull by its horns and start patrolling the streets.
“But now I am discouraged. I am not sure whether I am interested in crime fighting anymore. You cannot pay your loved ones and leave others. At some point a group of patrollers were not paid because she said they were still new. We questioned that too,” she said.
The patrollers said they work in areas like the train station, the Site C Mall and around creches and soup kitchens.
Ms Fana said despite a number of complaints having been raised over the years, there had been no resolution.
“As they have said here, we had ideas to buy tracksuits for the group so that when we attend events we can be seen too.
We have no uniforms and yet we are busy ducking skollies. We have the right to question her. She uses our names to get money around and not pay us in the end,” she said.
Confronted with the accusations, Ms Mnqubevu said Vukani could “write what they want” and she would respond to that.
The CPF said they were not aware of all the accusations, but would be meeting with the two parties today (Thursday) and find out more.