Visibility vital in fight against crime

MECs for Community Safety and Health Dan Plato and Nomafrench Mbombo handing over kit to neighbourhood watch leader Milingani Mbanga.

Town Two Neighbourhood Watch received First Aid and security certificates from the Health and Community Policing Departments, on Monday September 26, in a bid to empower and upskill them, making the structure the first accredited Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) in the province.

Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo and her Community Safety counterpart Dan Plato, urged the members to help the government in the fight against crime.

Dr Mbombo said as part of the provincial government’s Alcohol Harms Reduction Game Changer initiative, neighbourhood watches were being empowered with crucial skills, equipment and support to provide holistic safety services to the communities they serve.

The programme is focused on Gugulethu, Nyanga, Khayelitsha and Paarl East where alcohol abuse is high. “The aim is to reduce alcohol harms by increasing safety, working with shebeens, and improving the community through safety pathways and by assisting the local shebeens to be legal. Here in Town Two, the last time I checked there were 60 shebeens only two were legal. We want the watches to be part of this,” she said.

Dr Mbombo added that the targeted areas would see members getting safety kiosks from the Department of Community Safety. The kiosks would act as the contact point for residents, and for rapidly escalating complaints to police or law enforcement agencies.

“Safety is everybody’s business. Whatever happens affects the health department. People who are stabbed, gogos whose grant cards are confiscated by illegal money lenders, car accidents that are caused by drinkers, all impact on my department. That is why we provide resources and skills to neighbourhood watches so that they can help their communities,” she said.

Dr Mbombo said the training would help the members to provide immediate interim support until emergency services arrived.

Meanwhile, Mr Plato called on everyone to be part of crime fighting and asked residents to adopt a school or a child in need of help.

He commended members of the neighbourhood watch for showing commitment to fighting crime.

“They have indicated that they want to assist the government, police and children to fight crime. We want all those community policing forum members, neighbourhood watch members and unemployed parents to be part of this. There should be visibility so that criminals could run away,” he said.

Mr Plato said he does not expect the watches to do police work but to be visible so that crime perpetrators can see that people are tired of crime. Khayelitsha cluster commander Major General Johan Brand called on everyone to join the fight against crime and praised a wheelchair-bound man for completing the training and joining the watch.

“If a gentleman in a wheelchair can be part of crime-fighting and assist police, that says it all. Crime cannot be a police issue alone. We need a whole society approach. If we want to win the battle to fight crime, everyone must be involved,” he said.

The watches promised to do their best to help their community.

Mlingani Mbanga, NHW leader, said he was impressed with the work his members are doing.

He said they do all they can to reduce crime in the area and changes can be seen.

In total, 10 members of the neighbourhood watch received their Level 1 First Aid training certificates, as well as equipment.

A further 15 members received their additional Grade D and E security officer training certificate.