The AthCraw neighbourhood watch hosted its first fund-raiser at the Country Manor in Skaapkraal on Saturday, where they urged residents to take back their communities and put an end to escalating crime in the area.
The neighbourhood watch started about a year ago with the aim of bringing together residents of Athlone and Crawford who want to improve their communities.
One of the founders of the neighbourhood watch, Abdullah Salie, said during patrols, the neighbourhood watch members encountered many problems, among them youngsters who abused the elderly, and parents who allowed their children to “rule their households”.
“Something is horribly wrong in society when we confront these youngsters and their mothers confront us and want to know who reprimanded their child, instead of thanking us.
“What kind of men do you think we are if we are going to allow youngsters to be rude to their parents and grandparents and rule the streets and make the community subservient to them?” asked Mr Salie.
He said the task at hand was to speak to drug dealers in the area and substance abusers as well.
“Our society is in a pathetic state. When we confront the drug dealers, we speak to them and we ask them to stop destroying the society. Whenever we see something wrong in society, we need to confront it.
“We hope that everyone will be part of this movement to bring about a society that is crime- and drug-free. Everyone has a role to play,” he said.
Chairperson of the neighbourhood watch, Abdusalaam Zemanay, said a major problem in the community was that people no longer looked out for each other and that the neighbourhood watch aimed to change.
Mr Zemanay said he would like to start an after-school programme where children could do their homework in an environment conducive to learning.
He appealed to residents to join the neighbourhood watch and make a difference in the community so that change could take place.
He also thanked a group of elderly neighbourhood watch members who are referred to as “the SASSA group”.
“They make themselves available to go out and patrol and night when the young people are in bed and enjoying the comfort of their homes. This should motivate the youngsters to do the same,” he said.
Mr Zemanay also appealed to religious leaders to work together to improve the situation in the community.
He encouraged residents to interact with each other and build strong bonds among themselves.
Asheeqah Joseph, co-ordinator of the event, added that many of their patrollers had noticed that homeless people and drug addicts carried home-made weapons and would threaten watch members with these objects or use them to break into cars and homes.
She also asked residents to stand up against drugs and the people who sell them.
“We need to tell them to stop selling drugs to our children because it is killing them. We know everyone can’t patrol at night but we are asking the community to stand up and not to allow them to sell drugs in our roads. We need to take back our streets. Get involved, clean up our streets , and keep our kids safe by keeping our streets clean.
Ridwaan Joseph, who runs the feeding scheme, explained that it was a vital part of the neighbourhood watch through which they fed about 300 people every Friday, from 6pm to 8pm at the Independent school hall in Aldwin Avenue, Athlone.
“We are trying to make a positive change in our area and we are committed and determined to making a difference in the community.
“By doing this we hope to educate the kids and give them a future they deserve,” he said.
Mr Joseph also thanked the residents for their generosity and donations.
For more information about the neighbourhood watch contact Steven Adriaanse on 083 636 7273 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org