Community get together to take back their streets

Shanaaz Davids, Walied Johnson, Shaun Warner and Vanessa Warer are members of the Ottery Crime Watch.

Some Ottery residents have taken it upon themselves to keep their streets and community safe by starting a neighbourhood watch.

The Ottery Crime Watch started patrolling when robberies increased in the area.

Neighbourhood watch chairwoman Shanaaz Davids said the group had decided to be proactive because many people going to work or school in the morning were being targeted by robbers, especially in winter when it was still dark.

The group has been patrolling since March, but its committee was established in May.

Five members patrol between 5am and 7am while about 20 others watch the streets and the flats for suspicious activity.

“Despite the low numbers, I do think that we are making our community safer,” said Ms Davids.

“Gangsterism has always been an issue in Ottery, and there has always been a war, but now we have a group of youngsters targeting and robbing, especially women, to support their drug habits.”

The group is appealing to others to join, giving it strength in numbers to patrol from Ottery Road to Klip Road and from Strandfontein Road to De Wet Road.

“Ideally we would like to patrol from about 5am to 8.30 or 9am, but unfortunately the five of us cannot do that time period all the time. We have block watchers and court watchers but we need more people with us on the ground patrolling so residents are more than welcome to join up and help,” said Ms Davids.

Watch member and resident Dawood Mclean, who has lived in the area for 48 years, said robberies had become a big problem in the past two years.

“These robbers are targeting old people and women. I feel we are making a difference in the community when we stand and watch people pass through the area safely. If more people can get on board, the difference we would be able to make is vast,” said Mr Mclean.

Ward 66 councillor William Akim has provided the watch with torches and visibility jackets.

“Safety is everybody’s concern. From the City of Cape Town’s side, we will provide programmes, training, services and equipment to support and assist the neighbourhood watches because they play an important part in the community,” said Mr Akim. “I hope we can get more people to help take back their streets. We will in the meantime assist by providing more equipment.””

Visit the watch’s Facebook page, call them at 078 845 3197 or email @otterycrimewatch for more information.