Crime fighters seek sync

The panel for the evening, from left, are CPF treasurer Denzil Campher, CPF secretary Thomas Porthern, Acting CPF chairperson Veronica Cloete, and sector commander for Beacon Valley Captain Trevor Katzen.

A lack of co-operation between the neighbourhood watch and street committees; and a lack of involvement by the community in street committees topped the agenda of a sub-forum meeting called by the Beacon Valley CPF last week.

The meeting, held at Imperial Primary School on Thursday March 29, was poorly attended.

Bemoaning the lack of co-operation between the CPF and the neighbourhood watch, CPF treasurer Denzil Campher said: “I need to emphasise… the CPF and neighbourhood watch do not work closely together; they’re working on their own.”

While ward councillor Michael “Pat” Pietersen agreed that there was no synergy between the two bodies, he said he believed the matter had been resolved.

Addressing the issue of blurred lines between the organisations and their duties, Mr Campher stressed that street committees were not neighbourhood watches and suggested that the sub-forum elect and screen those who wanted to join the neighbourhood watch, street committees and walking buses, which escort children to and from school.

Fouzia Rhodes, a street committee member from Jukskei Crescent, Beacon Valley, who has been fighting crime for 10 years, said many streets did not have street committees.

“There are too few street committee members. We need more help … it is a strenuous task.”

Solomon Philander, the councillor for Ward 79 (Beacon Valley, Eastridge and Portland), had arranged for them to attend training over the years.

In addition to this, said Tina McDonald, also a street committee member: “We have received the neon yellow jackets from the City of Cape Town (but got) into trouble for having it.”

These jackets are traditionally worn by neighbourhood watch members.

Ms McDonald, however, believes that they should be allowed to wear the jackets “so that the community can identify the neighbourhood watch and street committees”.

Another street committee member from Beacon Valley, Mareldia Adams, said pupil safety was important to them, but there were not enough street committees to effectively address this.

“There are many schools in my area that do not have systems in place to keep the pupils safe from crime, or even away from it. I wrote to Dan Plato the Community Safety MEC about safety measures that should be taken in schools (but) I have yet to follow up. It all comes down to there not being enough street committees in the respective areas.”

On this, Captain Trevor Katzen, the sector commander for Beacon Valley, said: “The parents are accountable for their children. They too have a hand in how their child is raised and what they get up to in the community, be it good or bad. As a collective, only then can we help the young people in and out of school make better choices from the bad ones that they’ve experienced before.”

When street committees raised their concerns about equipment for neighbourhood watches and street committees, with Mr Pietersen, he said this would be budgeted for in the next financial year.

“In 2019, I am availing a budget for equipment for the neighbourhood watch in my area – Mandalay, Beacon Valley, Montrose Park and the Farm. The CPF will have a hand-over of the equipment such as torches, jackets, walkie talkies, to name just a few.”

When Ms Rhodes highlighted illegal activities taking place at houses in her area, Mr Pietersen said it was important for police to be aware of what was happening in the communities they served. Mr Campher also suggested they look at how those involved in crime could be rehabilitated.

“How can we help those committing the illegal crimes to become better and be healthy again?” he asked.

“Sometimes this is the only thing they know. If they are constantly being shunned for their wrong, how will they want to improve their lives and push for a better future for themselves and their families?”

In addition to this, said Mr Campher, there was a lack of shelters in Mitchell’s Plain and training for those who had dropped out of school, or could not afford tertiary education, should be prioritised.

The next sub-forum meeting will be held today, Wednesday April 4, at 10am at Shekinah Full Gospel Church of God on the corner of Hengelaar and Cricket streets, Beacon Valley.