Volunteers vow to root out crime

Residents came together to form their own neighbourhood watch.

With crime on the rise New Crossroads, residents are taking back their streets by forming neighbourhood watches in a bid to combat criminal activity.

Vice-chairperson of the watch, Nomonde Sityebi, said they started the watch after a two-month stint with Umtha – an NGO which runs safety initiatives during the festive season.

“We had a good experience during that time,” she said. “We have always wanted to protect our area, but it has not been easy. After the December experience we felt we needed to do something. There is no turning back. We have to fight to crime here,” she told Vukani.

Ms Sityebi said they had to deal with several challenges when they started – and they continue to face more.

“We discovered that criminals are now wearing reflectors too. But fortunately people know us,” she said, adding that they hoped to get uniforms soon.

“Another challenge is that of people who feel that we are too forward. But that does not bother us.” Ms Sityebi added that they were also creating crime awareness programmes at schools because pupils, who were seen as soft targets, need to be cautious when walking to and from school.

“But we are always at the schools to take them home. We walk with them all the way and wait for those who go home late,” she said.

Volunteer and watch secretary, Ncumisa Nobhongoza, said she joined the watch because she loved her area and its people. “The only problem here is drugs. I know that because my brother was once a victim of tik. He would sell everything and anything at home. When I heard about the formation of the watch, I sprang up because I wanted to protect this lovely area,” she said.

Ms Nobhongoza said due to crime most people were scared of the area. “We will strive to better the area. We are the ones who should be at the forefront of our battles here. With police working with us, we will fight crime to the bitter end,” she said.

She urged people to be vigilant and appealed to them, especially young people, to join the fight against crime.