While most South Africans were celebrating Heritage Day on Saturday September 24, concerned advocacy groups and some Khayelitsha residents held an anti-crime indaba aimed at finding ways to curb crime. The groups, including the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), Khayelitsha Education Forum (KEF), Khayelitsha Development Forum (KFD), Department of Correctional Services and the South African Police Services (SAPS), converged at Uyesu Unathi Hall to talk about substance abuse, domestic violence, vigilantism and the role of street committees.
Angry residents voiced their concerns about the trading hours of liquor outlets, arguing that Khayelitsha was regarded as one of the townships with high alcohol consumption and high levels of drug use.
They also demanded the installation of CCTV cameras in areas which had been identified as dangerous and problematic, calling for the implementation of a code of conduct for taverns.
KDF deputy chairperson Thandi Msutu said residents needed to continuously host such events to come up with strategies to deal with crime and warned that services rendered by private doctors and ambulances around Khayelitsha were on the verge of being stopped due to crime.
Ms Msuthu cautioned against the withdrawal of investors, citing the gathering as just one of the strategies in place to promote investor confidence. “We need to reclaim our community. We urge the community at large to join hands with us in creating a better society for our children and grandchildren,” she said.
KEF secretary and False Bay College campus head in Khayelitsha, Haido Mteto, said their students were often victims of crime, until an intervention by members of the Khayelitsha Neighbourhood Watch, and pointed out that Spine Road was a crime hot spot. He praised the neighbourhood watch for deploying members close to the college to ensure the student’s safety on their way to school and home.
Mr Mteto also praised the cellphone network provider which had donated whistles and 10 bicycles to the programme, enabling the neighbhourhood watch to move quickly between areas. “We have seen that we can defeat crime if we are all involved,” he said..
Khayelitsha deputy cluster commander, Brigadier Tania Hoskign added that domestic violence, murder and attempted murder are among the common crimes in the area and that the high number of people in the precinct and a lack of street lights often made it difficult for them to perform their duties.
Brigadier Hoskign said similar gatherings brought the community together and strengthened fights against crime. She said criminals always looked for innovative ways to commit crime and as the community they needed to be on their toes to counter their plans.
“We have written down some of the complaints raised by the community and we will peruse them. Our approach to fighting crime is a societal approach strategy and it simply encourages communities to be part and parcel of our plans,” she said. “I appeal to the community to not buy stolen goods. I also urge residents to report perpetrators of crime and they can be anonymous if they want. We can never win the fight against crime if we are not working together.”