Spotlight on vandalism during mayor’s walk with neighbourhood watch

Ward 67 councillor Gerry Gordon and Dan Plato walk with the NHW groups.

A visit and walkabout by neighbourhood watches highlighted the importance of these volunteer groups and how they help the community.

Over the past few months there have been several reports of vandalism of street lights – making life difficult for residents.

The Residents Neighbourhood Watch, Patrol Neighbourhood Watch and the Thembelihle Neighbourhood Watch walked the streets of Pelican Park on Friday April 23, joined by Ward 67 Councillor Gerry Gordon and Mayor Dan Plato.

The series of neighbourhood watch support visits were started in February to offer ways to assist community-based groups and to encourage increased community participation in various areas across the city.

Mr Plato said crime prevention required all of our efforts, including that of young people. “These neighbourhood watch groups are motivated by the safety of their communities and their families and this deserves to be commended because they are showing care for others”.

He said the vandalism of street lights had become a major issue in the area.

“Vandals are pulling out the cables and this causes complaints from the public around inadequate lighting. The public often see this happening and we want to encourage residents to play a role in safeguarding infrastructure because it is for their benefit,” he said.

LED torches are handed over to the various neighbourhood watch groups present to assist with patrol efforts. Dan Plato hands torches to Marlon Johnstone, the Chairperson of Residents NHW.

Marlon Johnstone, chairperson for the Residents Neighbourhood Watch who helped start the watch in 2019, said their key focus areas during patrols were illegal shebeens and shops which stayed open until very late.

“The spaza shops are a gathering point for young people and you often find that is where the gangsters are. Through our efforts we have managed to get these shops to close at 9pm to discourage illegal activity. If the shops close at 9pm, our area becomes very quiet. If there are people walking around after 10pm, then we know that they are up to no good.”

He said that they needed greater support from police to deal with illegal shebeens.

From about 5am during the week, neighbourhood watch members also patrol via bicycle and vehicle to help ensure the safety of residents making their way to work.

Rewina Pietersen, a youth member of the Residents Neighbourhood Watch said she wanted to be an example to other young people in her community: “If other youth who know me and see me being active in the community, it may encourage them to do the same. I also joined the NHW because the youth of this community can inspire change for what we want in our neighbourhood”.

Youth NHW members Robin Lopes, Rewina Pietersen and Gaylinn Oliver.

Ms Pietersen said the responsibility had to shift to younger people because the older generation would not be able to lead forever.

“Preventing crime is everyone’s responsibility. We need more young people to join us,” said Ms Pietersen.

The public can anonymously report any suspicious activity to the Public Emergency Communication Centre on 021 480 7700 from a cellphone, or 107 from a landline. Complaints of non-compliance with Covid-19 regulations can be directed to the City’s compliance hotline on 021 444 3582.

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