Be the eyes and ears on the ground


Everyone is a neighbourhood watch member and it is important to join your local group even if you do not patrol, believes David Benjamin, spokesperson for Diaz Village Neighbourhood Watch, in Grassy Park.

The watch is inviting residents to come meet them at Grassy Park civic centre on Wednesday April 20 and perhaps join the fight against crime in the area.

Mr Benjamin said they needed “numbers to keep the watch alive”.

The meeting will be hosted by Ward 110 councillor Shannen Rossouw who said they would be discussing CCTV cameras in the area.

Mr Benjamin said the meeting is a good opportunity for residents to find out how the neighbourhood watches work.

“All of us don’t need to patrol but we can all be the eyes and ears directly on the ground.

“We are all neighbourhood watch members, young and old. For example, the old woman who is looking out her window is also a member.”

Two burglaries at the same property in Second Avenue, on Monday March 14 and Wednesday March 16, left the neighbourhood watch concerned.

Warrant Officer Wynita Kleinsmith, spokesperson for Grassy Park police, confirmed the burglaries in Second Avenue.

The watch also stressed the importance of reporting crime to the police after a burglary during the same week in Fourth Avenue was not reported.

Mr Benjamin said: “We captured a woman, but the victims knew the woman apparently and they would not lay charges. It is important to open a case when you are burgled and for witnesses to come for- ward.”

The Diaz Village Neighbourhood Watch covers the area from Klip Road to 5th Avenue and Victoria Road until Service Road.

The watch started in 2011 with 25 members but that number has dwindled over the years while crime has escalated.

“We patrol almost every night and we have seen many things happening. We have seen young men and women roaming the streets in the early hours doing illegal activities. But the duties as neighbourhood watch members are extended.

“Once we caught a 12-year-old boy sitting in a car with older boys. We saw a white powder on his cellphone and discovered later it was a ‘date rape’ pill crushed. We took him home and offered our service to help the boy with rehabilitation.”

They aim to help drug addicts get off the streets. “We will soon be launching a youth programme and refer the addicts for counselling or rehabilitation programmes.”

Ismail Raban, interim chairman of Diaz Village Neighbourhood Watch, said the community must unite.

Diaz Village Neighbourhood Watch also tried to brighten the spirits of the community when they invited the residents to an open braai, in the park in Perth Road, in September last year.

“We are interacting with the community daily and all we need is to stand together. If we have a 100 members we can watch over a 1 000 houses. Residents need to join our WhatsApp chat group to communicate better. If something happens on the corner of any road in our area, you can put it on our chat and someone will be there to help.”

The watch members said they have become close, like an extended family, and that when they patrol they “have each other’s backs”. The said they worked closely with the police and have a good relationship with the officers.

Warrant Officer Kleinsmith said there is a good working relationship between the sector manager and the neighbourhood watch.

“Strengthening the partnership between the community, neighbourhood watches and the police is high on the agenda as it is contributing to reducing crime and the apprehension of perpetrators thereof. Colonel Shawn van Wyk ex-presses his gratitude to the neighbourhood watches for their constant involvement in the fight against crime. He further appeals to the community to get involved in the reward system, which allows any adult member of the community to become pro-actively involved in the prevention of crime. Crime and criminals can be reported and a reward could be received by the reporter.”

For more information about the watch and the meeting, contact Mr Raban on 079 517 8775.