Make it safer for public to report crime

Owen Simons, Retreat

It is with a deep ache in my heart, and not a small sense of recrimination, that I read of the killing of children and innocent people by gangsters (“March against gang violence,” Southern Mail, August 11).

I have lived in Lavender Hill for the best part of 39 years. I know how terrifying the sound and sight of shootings can be. I know, too, the desperate pain a shooting can inflict on a victim, their families and loved ones and the community. The trauma, especially to children and the youth, is incalculable.

Over the years, I have sent many emails on to this matter to the various mayors of Cape Town, including Dan Plato and Gerald Morkel, as well as city officials, councillors and SAPS management.

Residents know who the shooters are, and, more often than not, where to find them. However, there is no safe way for people to report meaningfully, in order for arrests, prosecution and the jailing of shooters to happen.

It seems to have fallen on deaf ears, but my suggestion was that relevant contact details be given to residents, cutting out the need for visible contact between them and SAPS and City Law Enforcement.

24/7 contact numbers for the duty officers should be in municipal-account statements. So when someone sees a shooter, they can immediately forward full details, anonymously, without leaving their homes, at any time of the day and night – 100% safety.

Apart from the use of City account statements, every councillor, as I understand it, has a monthly allocation of 5 000 pamphlets, which they may distribute to constituents. Not once have I seen even one such pamphlet in my letterbox, in all of the 44 years I have lived in the greater Retreat area.

I have also suggested repeatedly that the local City housing follow up with tenants of City property that is the subject of nuisance and disturbance complaints made to the police. The by-laws allow for this.

Security companies routinely work with other companies and private homeowners to keep their areas safe. Why do SAPS, the City and councillors not catch on to this?

My experience is that people are more afraid of the City than SAPS.

I think we will only start to see safer neighbourhoods once the City and law-enforcement agencies make it 100% safe for residents to report crime.

The mechanisms are there. The legislation is there. The resources are definitely there. But I suspect the political will is not there.

We all need to do our bit to keep our own neighbourhoods safe.