Members of the Gatesville Neighbourhood Watch have appealed for more people to join them on their patrols to help curb criminal activity in the area.
The neighbourhood watch only has four active members at the moment, and they say the most common illegal activities include robberies, drug smuggling, gun smuggling, and prostitution.
On Sunday July 23, the members took the Athlone News to a bridge which is bordered by Gatesville Road and Durr Road in Greenhaven.
It only allows for pedestrian access, and Jakes Gerwel Road is above it. It is here, where most of the criminal activity and dumping take place, the neighbourhood watch members said.
“There are frequent walkers here, as the bridge they walk under is a short cut. With this, however, comes all the criminal activity. About three weeks ago, an 84-year-old woman was robbed and the perpetrators dragged her across the road. She was so badly injured that she suffered a broken hip and is still in hospital. These criminals don’t even show any mercy to our elders,” said Siva Moodley, a resident who supports the efforts of the neighbourhood watch.
Chairperson of the Gatesville Neighbourhood Watch, Fowzia Veerasamy has called on many more, especially men, to join them.
“Where are the men? How can it be expected of three women and a man to protect the entire community? This is so unfair. There are so many residents here. We have 140 residents on our WhatsApp group. They are very active on the WhatsApp group when it comes to complaining, but not when it comes to doing what we would like them to do – to help us – then they are not active. When we need help, only the residents of Gatesville Road help us out, when there are so many other roads in the area. We work closely with SAPS, Law Enforcement, and our ward councillor, Aslam Cassiem,” Ms Veerasamy said.
Mr Moodley echoed Ms Veerasamy’s sentiments, saying each household in the area, must have a young man living there. He said if more people join the neighbourhood watch, not only will there be strength in numbers, but that would also mean that residents will only have to dedicate one hour of their time, as they would then patrol on rotation.
Mr Moodley’s other concern, he said, was that Gatesville mosque hands out food to the homeless on a Friday afternoon, and this attracts many people from outside the area, which leads to more crime and dumping.
“We appreciate the mosque’s humanitarian efforts, but we would prefer it if they redirect that to registered shelters,” Mr Moodley said.
Gatesville mosque spokesperson, Sataar Parker, denied that the mosque runs a feeding scheme on a Friday though.
“The mosque does not give people food on a Friday. What we do, is sell food to our congregants. How it works, is that one would buy pre-paid coupons from the mosque, and if you do not feel like cooking that day, you can use the coupons to buy food. This money is being raised for the maintenance of the mosque.
“We do have a problem with people loitering around the mosque, and we have stepped up our security efforts. We have also discouraged our congregants from giving food or money to the people loitering outside. There is one person we are aware of, however, who hands out his leftover food that he did not get to sell. We appreciate the challenges the neighbourhood watch have,” Mr Parker said.
Another Gatesville Neighbourhood Watch member, Ghouwa Kannemeyer, said the community need to make a collective effort to deal with their challenges.
Ms Veerasamy said apart from crime, they also assist residents by logging municipal complaints such as blocked drains and faulty street lights.
On Friday August 11, the neighbourhood watch is hosting a Women’s Day fundraising event. Tickets are R100 each, but seniors are welcome to join free-of-charge. The money raised will be used to buy much-needed equipment for the neighbourhood watch.
If you would like to assist with the fundraiser or patrols, contact Ms Veerasamy at 061 774 6547 or Ms Kannemeyer at 061 212 9796.