They’re on the road day and night, driven by passion and dedication, and the only payment they receive is the gratification of helping to keep their community safe.
These are the members of the Strandfontein Community Police (CPF) safety structures, a combination of senior citizens and adults who spend hours on the road, walking through streets and bushes.
The Plainsman spent a few hours on patrol in different parts of Strandfontein, with the members on Saturday June 17.
With the team of volunteers, kitted out with equipment and reflector bibs, were the six law enforcement auxiliary members who received their training last year.
During the patrol they found a missing child, aged eight, who had been away from home for more than 24 hours, in a bush near Spine Road in Standfontein.
Strandfontein CPF chairperson Sandy Schuter Jacobs said while, over the past few months, the number of members of the various structures had grown, more were needed.
Ms Jacobs said the law enforcement auxiliary members had been volunteers with the safety structure.
“This came about after the neighbourhood watches complained that they couldn’t search alleged suspects. So, this services caters for this specific purpose. The role of the auxiliary law enforcement is exactly the same as a permanent law enforcement officers. They have the same authority to stop and search and issue fines,” she said.
The active safety structures, which include the block, street and neighbourhood watches, are in Strandfontein, Bay View, the informal settlements, On the Bay and San Remo. Ms Schuter Jacobs said there were block watches and each block watch had a block captain with a committee to ensure the smooth functioning of the structure.
She added that the CPF also had a victim support structure in place to assist victims of crime.
Speaking about their programmes Ms Schuter Jacobs said they had a youth at risk programme, which was run with Strandfontein SAPS and Metro police.
“We have the free learners’ classes which will take place in August for the unemployed in Strandfontein. We also have several awareness programmes throughout the year, addressing various issues relating to crime,” she said.
Ms Schuter Jacobs added that members also conduct awareness programmes at schools, early childhood development centres and churches, with the focus on issues such as bullying, domestic violence, rape, child protection, elder abuse, gang and drug awareness.
“We partner with various organisations with projects as we don’t have funds to sustain an ongoing project,” said Ms Schuter Jacobs.
“We have weekly radio interviews to raise awareness and to encourage communities to get more involved in the CPF structures,” she said, adding that the CPF wants to set up more block watches, particularly where they have become inactive. “The crime dropped in those specific blocks so they stopped and now crime is moving into those blocks again. So, we want to revive them again.
“It’s concerning that there is very little interest from the community around their own safety. We need more men on the structure; we are predominantly ladies,” she said.
Speaking about the challenges, Ms Schuter Jacobs said gangs in the area were recruiting young people. “It is a reality. There are gangs in Strandfontein. We are aware of the drug trade happening on the field between North End and Dennegeur also known as the ‘desert’,” she said.
Ms Jacobs said they have made the City of Cape Town aware of the need to clean up the area, where bushes were growing, making it easier for drug dealing and robberies to take place.
“It needs to be cleaned because there is a bus stop just there. People fall prey to robberies there because it’s dark. They get robbed and the suspects flee to the bush. The police often patrol the desert and there have been successful arrests made on the desert,” she said.
Levan Jacobs, PRO for the Strandfontein neighbourhood watch, encouraged residents to join the structures and make Strandfontein a safer place.
“Imagine if in every household in Strandfontein, one person joined a structure. The thieves will not have an opportunity to commit crime. Our concern is the drug trade and gangs in Strandfontein. We need to get rid of these drug houses, because with that come gangs. We have marched, stood in front of the drug house. The more we do this and the more residents we have on board, lobbying for the same thing, the better for residents young and old,” he said.
To join the safety structures contact 071 947 8294 and residents will be put in touch with the block captain in their area.