Working and walking together for child safety

Dan Plato with members of the School Safety Project, accompanied by Cornflower Primary School pupils.

At the launch of a walking bus initiative in Lentegeur, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato called on parents to take responsibility for their children’s safety and for the community to work together to help prevent crime.

The main objective of the initiative, which was launched at the Lobelia Hall last week, was to encourage parents to accompany their children to and from school.

And before the launch, Mr Plato, ward councillors and representatives of the School Safety Project took turns accompanying pupils to primary schools in the area.

“This is a great initiative and as a community we need to stand up and work together,” said Eva Swartz of the School Safety Project. “Our children are (being) kidnapped (while) others get robbed of their cellphones every day because there is no one supervising them. We need to be vigilant all the time,” said Ms Swartz.

Parent Rochelle Minnies, 26, also applauded the initiative, encouraging other parents to get involved as well. “This is a great initiative for our children’s safety. And we need to protect our children. We must make sure that we accompany them all the time,” said Ms Minnies.

Mr Plato also urged parents and neighbourhood watch members to escort the children to and from school. “The residents are always complaining about gangs robbing their children of their belongings. And we need to provide a safe space for our children. Parents must not sit at home waiting for government to do everything for them. They must take initiative and be responsible.”

“Let’s say no to violence and gangsterism. Let’s create a conducive environment for our children,” said Mr Plato.

“I’m asking parents to come on board because we can’t have police officers on every corner.”

Jemayne Andres, the co-ordinator of ministerial outreach projects in Mr Plato’s office, said visiting the family of a deceased child was painful.

“As officials we have to visit these families and I can assure you it’s not a nice thing to do. Let’s adopt the attitude that my child is your child and your child is my child,” she urged.

Colonel Zimasa Mjali from Lentegeur police station said that police alone cannot fight crime.

“We need all the community stakeholders to be involved. This initiative doesn’t only protect the schools (but) the community as well,” he said.

Lentegeur CPF spokesperson Cassiem Gamiet also applauded the initiative but warned that it needs to be well organised. He urged seniors to get involved, describing them as the backbone of the community.

Principal of Meadowridge Primary School in Lentegeur, Norman Daniels, described the initiative as a good strategy to curb crime and urged parents to get involved.

“This shows the importantance of education and beefing up security in our communities. Crime is a concern to everyone,” said Mr Daniels.

Ward councillor Goawa Timm said the walking bus initiative will help bring back security visibility to the communities in which they operate. She described drugs and crime as major problems in the area. She also urged police to be more visible.