‘Our kids need protection’

Only 20 people attended the meeting at the Holy Nativity Church Hall in Athlone on Thursday August 30.

Residents want better policing so that their children can be safe.

They expressed their concern at a poorly attended meeting hosted by the Bokmakierie Hazendal Uplifting Development last Thursday, August 30, at the Holy Nativity Church Hall in Athlone.

The organisation says it is committed to educating the community of Bokmakierie and Hazendal about their rights, duties and responsibilities.

Only 20 residents attended the meeting. Among them was Ian de Jongh, who has lived in the area for 10 years.

He said human trafficking has become every parent’s worst nightmare since the reports of attempted kidnappings from various schools over the past few weeks (“Watch out for child snatchers”, Athlone News, August 29).

He said the area needed more policing, especially when children travel to and from school as they often walk home alone and in some cases their schools are quite far away, making them an easy target.

“Our kids need protection when walking home from school, they are being mugged. They cannot walk alone, human trafficking is real,” he said.

Alfonzo Kayser, who has been a resident of the area for 15 years, said police need to take responsibility for the area as the residents can’t do it alone.

“We cannot apprehend criminals on our own, we will get hurt and when we defend ourselves we are the ones who will go to jail, not them. People are being robbed in the area on their way to work. Once the police is called they have already been robbed and by the time the police gets here four to five people have been robbed already,” he said.

Other issues that were raised in the meeting was the broken fencing along the canal, which runs behind Bokmakierie and along the N2. The fencing had been repaired by the City of Cape Town in June but got vandalised and stolen a few days later.

In May last year the Bokmakierie and Hazendal communities raised similar issues (“Paving the way for Bokmakierie youth”, Athlone News, May 24 2017).

Mr Kayser said that because of the existence of illegal scrapyards there will always be a demand for metal and therefore theft.

“People need something to do or they will keep stealing because they are unemployed. The City will replace it and they will steal it again. They need to be up-skilled and find something to do so that they can make money for themselves and stop stealing,” he said.

Another pertinent issue was the collapsing of the riverbank.

In response, Ward 49 councillor Rashid Adams said the City
had already repaired the fencing along the canal but keeps having to spend ward allocation money to repair it.

“There are so many more things that the area needs like road maintenance for example, but how do we get there when we keep spending money on the same thing? We are looking at the riverbanks of the entire N2 and will be doing a site visit within the next two weeks,” he said.

Athlone police spokeswoman, Sergeant Zita Norman, said the sector commanders are patrolling near primary schools and high schools in the area at school arrival and dismissal times.

“We are also asking that the community keep their ears and eyes on the ground and to report any suspicious behaviour,” she said.