New watch hopes to bring change in Cafda

The newly-formed Cafda Village Neighbourhood watch is one of three that was started in Cafda, Lavender Hill and Montague Village. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Cable theft, house break-ins and gangsterism have overwhelmed Cafda Village for years but a newly-formed neighbourhood watch is hoping to change this.

Cafda has been without an official watch for the past 10 years.

A group of non-profit organisations, police, the community police forum (CPF) and residents met on Tuesday August 29 to establish the Cafda Village Neighbourhood Watch with the aim of combating the ongoing and ever-increasing crime in the area.

Chairperson of the newly- established watch, Reginald Dirks has been living in the area for over 60 years and said crime has gotten out of control with gang shootings, drug-related incidents and robberies.

He was part of the previous neighbourhood watch, which was dissolved over 10 years ago, and started a watch in Tambourien Street last year but it wasn’t registered and decided to partner with other street committees to form the Cafda Village watch.

“I took it upon myself to start a watch because things were becoming worse over the past few years and crime is out of control. It saddened me to see innocent people being killed in gang shootings and drugs taking over our community, so we must take control of the situation and of the community again like we used to.

“We need to show the criminals and gangsters that we will no longer sit back and watch them destroy our community. We need to stand up against them and take back our area”.

Wendy Paulse from the Walton and Choppin street committee “Be the change you want to see” said the combined effort to start the watch has been in planning for a while and was vital to regain control of the community.

“We really wanted and needed to get it up and running because the streets aren’t safe for our children to play in anymore and gangsterism has become a major issue. We’ve taken the first step and we are encouraging people in Cafda to come on board and join us to make Cafda a safe space again. Anyone is welcome to join in any capacity.”

A crime awareness intervention was held in Cafda last week and the first Cafda Village Neighbourhood Watch was established.

Although the group is still in the vetting process, they’ve already done a walk-about in the area and have elected their executive board and plans are in place to have members trained and equipped.

“The reception has been very good in the community but we want to spread awareness to get more people to join. We can only do it with residents’ help.”

Ward councillor Shanen Rossouw has appealed to all residents of Cafda to get on board to address the surge of criminality.

She said since she’s been councillor she had been attempting to restart the neighbourhood watch in Cafda without success but said there has been a change in communities’ attitudes towards crime and many people are taking responsibility for their areas with a new watch in Montague Village and Lavender Hill which was established in the past year.

“The situation is dire in these communities and residents are taking up the mantle because they are tired of being affected by crime and not being safe in their areas. This is fantastic because we need these street committees and watches to come on board because the police and we as the City cannot do it by ourselves.

“They are the eyes and ears and their role is very important,” she said.

“We need to come together to keep our areas safe and the only way to do that is for residents to help. It’s no use if you want to see change but you are not part of the change, so implore everyone to get involved by patrolling, reporting and forming part of the movement for positive change.”

Gavin Walbrugh, chairperson of the Steenberg CPF, said the forum is pleased with the enthusiasm shown by the communities and implored more people to get involved.

“Neighbourhood watches are very important because it gives a sense of security and the community of Cafda have been very eager. Although everyone can’t patrol, people can still be involved through street committees who then report to the watch by reporting incidents that happen in their streets.”

He said it’s a step in the right direction to address the crime in Cafda because it has been one of their areas of concern.

Cable theft in particular has increased dramatically in the areas and residents often have to go without electricity because of it and the ward councillor called on communities to report when they see vandalism and theft of cables.

“These criminals are stealing cables while it’s load shedding and families are left in the dark. The City spends millions of rands fixing cable theft but as soon as they leave the site the cables are stolen again. We need the community to stand up and report because it affects them. We need to take hands and stop what’s happening,” said Ms Rossouw.

Stakeholders met to address the crime in Cafda.

In the last quarter approximately R4 million has been spent on the repairing and replacing of electricity infrastructure with the majority of the incidents relating to damaged kiosks and streetlights, stolen cable and illegal connections, among others.

Mayoral committee member for energy, Beverley van Reenen, said the City remains committed to protecting critical infrastructure but needs the community’s support. “Community support has played a huge role in helping with identifying risks and protecting infrastructure. The City thanks all residents for the ongoing support. More can be done and we ask communities to report to us and SAPS.”

To learn more about the neighbourhood watch or to get involved, call Reggie Dirks on 064 703 4936.

To report damage to municipal electrical infrastructure, SMS to 31220, email or call 0800 1100 77.

Anonymous tip-offs are welcomed and there is a reward of R5 000 if tip-offs lead to arrests.