Stalwart community crime fighter dies

Mitchells Plain crime fighter and community worker, Peter Roman.

Dedicated, dependable – a people’s person who went the extra mile for his family and community.

This is how many described crime fighter and community worker, Peter Josef Roman, 63, who died on Wednesday October 9 from liver disease.

Mr Roman, was a founder member of the neighbourhood watch movement in Mitchell’s Plain, was co-founder of Walk Patrol Neighbourhood Watch, established in 1993, co-founder of the Mitchell’s Plain Crime Care Unit, was instrumental in implementing the Bambanani anti-crime project, established by former Community Safety MEC Leonard Ramatlakane in 2003, and played an invaluable role in the formation of the Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum’s Child Rapid Response Unit. He was also a volunteer for the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management and one of the first parent committee members of Eisleben Primary School in Rocklands where he later also served on the school governing body.

On the political front,
Mr Roman was a formidable fighter for workers’ rights, serving as organiser and shop steward for the SA Chemical Workers’ Union and a PAC member, standing as a candidate for the party in local government elections.

A pastor, he had a rich spiritual life, was a member of Die Heilige Sabbat Kerk, served as secretary of Petra Life Centre’s men’s fellowship and ministry and founded his own church, Roman’s Pentecostal Church.

On Saturday October 15 at his funeral service, at a packed Rocklands civic centre, the community, watch members, members of the local community police forums, block watch members, street committee members, neighbours, teachers, parents, volunteers, all came to pay their respects and to celebrate his life and legacy.

Tributes were peppered with accounts of how he went out of his way to help people.

Isobel Lesch, a former colleague of Mr Roman’s who worked with him for more than 20 years, described him as someone who would cut himself into a million pieces to please everyone.

“You could call him early morning or the middle of the night, he would always answer the phone – one could count on him. I have never known anyone as dedicated as Peter. Hy sou jou nie halfway gelos het nie; hy sou die pad voluit met jou stap.”

Ms Lesch thanked the Roman family for sharing him with the community, saying his wife Pauline was a rock and pillar of strength for Mr Roman.

Mr Roman’s cousin, Desiree Qwels said as important as the work of God was for Mr Roman, so was family. “He was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a cousin, an uncle, a nephew. He would go the extra mile for the entire family. Whenever there was a crisis, the first person the family would call was Peter. He always made time for his family.

“He was a good father who would always motivate his children to go bigger and higher – to empower themselves with knowledge and education.”

Born on September 28 1956, he was the only son and eldest of four children. He was raised by his grandmother.

The Romans were married in 1985 and out of their union three sons were born.

In 1986 when a flood hit the communities of Heideveld and Manenberg hard, Mr Roman was instrumental in establishing the Heideveld/Manenberg Crisis Committee, of which he was the chairperson.

“You could depend on Peter to help,” said Ms Qwels.

Mr Roman was also praised for serving Eisleben Primary, a stone’s throw from his Gold Street home, with such passion – up until a few days before his death.

Soraya Deal, the deputy principal at Eisleben Primary School, said Mr Roman’s death left a void at the school. “He was one of the first members of the school committee. He was always friendly and would always pop in at my classroom to greet me in the morning. He was always at school functions, at meetings. We are going to miss him – we have great memories of him.”

Head of department for the school’s foundation phase, Tania Erasmus, said she would remember Mr Roman as a man who loved children. “That in itself speaks volumes. We want to give thanks for the type of person he was; for the love and dedication towards our pupils. You could count on him because of his commitment and love for children, for his concern for their safety.

“Thank you to his family for sharing him with us. His legacy will live on.”

Brian Peters of the City’s Disaster Risk Management volunteers, described Mr Roman as a father figure to them. “He was respectful, disciplined; admirable qualities. He was an active member of our unit for the past four years, logging 117 hours for this year.

“We didn’t even know he was ill; he never complained. Volunteers are ordinary people who live extraordinary lives. They don’t expect pay, yet the impact they make knows no bounds.”

In giving the thanks, son Randall Roman, said he can say with certainty that there is hardly anyone in the hall that his dad did not help, ensuring children crossed the road safely, that people’s homes and cars were safe.

“Yes, we are heartsore but we take comfort from what we have heard being said about my dad. The other day I was pulled off by a police officer – he only stopped me to convey his condolences on my dad’s passing. It is things like these that encourage a son and therefore it is a privilege to make my dad proud. 

‘We have always dreaded the phone call that would inform us that my dad was either shot or stabbed to death because where instinct dictates that you run away from danger, my dad would run towards it; to help. My mom always said Walk Patrol was my dad’s baby. Thank you to all the watch members – thank you that you always had my dad’s back on the street. It was a privilege to share my dad with each one of you. Thank you to ward councillor Danny Christians for getting the civic centre for us; thank you to the nursing and medical staff of Groote Schuur Hospital; especially Ward F25. Those that I didn’t name, be assured that every gesture, every word of comfort, everyone who asked what they can do, is appreciated.

“My dad was a people’s person. Thank you Mom – I think Daddy is looking down on us and enjoying this service very much.

“There is a hymn that he loved: ‘Liefdevol soek Hy my; met Sy bloed koop Hy my; deur genade veilig, veilig, bring Hy sy kinders weer terug’. My pa is veilig.”

Disaster Risk Management volunteers formed a guard of honour inside the civic centre, lining the wall in salute to Mr Roman – a tribute that was duplicated outside as watch members lined up on either side of a red carpet leading from the civic centre entrance to the foot of the steps where the hearse waited.