Fighting crime in his community is something very close to Ridwaan Nero’s heart.
Mr Nero, from Westgate, is an auxiliary law enforcement officer and the co-ordinator of the Westgate Neighbourhood Watch and has years of crime-fighting experience.
He recently won the gold award: Leader’s Choice: neighbourhood watch member at the annual neighbourhood watch awards in the City of Cape Town Outstanding Achievement category. The awards are held jointly by the City and the provincial Department of Community Safety.
Mr Nero worked at Pollsmoor Prison for 10 years, staying on the premises while in service and moved to Westgate in 2010.
When he moved to Mitchell’s Plain, he picked up on the patterns – gangs were hanging around on corners, graffiti on the walls – to name a few. He heard residents talk about children being robbed and how that affected the community. He walked to the shop one day and walked into an altercation where a group of younger men were swearing at an elderly man. He could not believe what he heard as that changed the way he saw the community.
Mr Nero decided that “something needs to change in the community, something needs to happen.” He started a neighbourhood watch with three other community members who felt the same about changing the community for the better. The members were Reza Daniels, Dougly Bulose, who now resides in Rocklands and Nolan Berry.
He started the Westgate Neighbourhood Watch in 2014 with his colleagues who then recruited men in the area to help them.
They started what they called “corner meetings” in the area so that they could cover most areas in Westgate. They would speak about issues affecting the area and how they can fix those problems.
“We had an incident where a man found a woman unconscious in her home. He had no assistance and no knowledge of how to resuscitate her. A neighbourhood watch member who was a paramedic helped the man to save her,” said Mr Nero.
Many of the neighbourhood watch members are paramedics or work for rescue services or law enforcement.
“For people, something needs to work and they need to feel secure as that is when they trust you most. Working in service in the community is not an easy task but it comes with the passion for the job,” said Mr Nero.
The neighbourhood watch also did their bit to spruce up their neighbourhood, painting over the graffiti in addition to patrolling the streets to keep the community safe. “We stick together like glue, if anything goes down we’ll know about it immediately,” said Mr Nero.
Speaking about the award he won, Mr Nero said: “The award I won was not for myself, it was for everyone. If it were not for my colleagues and the community members, I would not have won this award.
“It feels good to work with the neighbourhood watch and being assisted by SAPS and the Metro police and all those in service. This will always be something I will do in my community, it is my passion,” said Mr Nero.
JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, said: “Ridwaan’s achievements are no surprise if one considers the amazing work that the Westgate Neighbourhood Watch does.”
Other winners at the annual awards were Glenda Arendse of Lentegeur East Sector 2 Neighbourhood Watch, who won a gold award in the MEC for Community Safety’s Outstanding Achievements category. The watch also won a bronze award for Organisation Excellence while the Eastridge Neighbourhood Watch won a bronze award in the Skills Training Excellence category.