Safety ambassadors launched

Bonteheuwel ward councillor, Angus McKenzie, left, with the community ambassadors team.

Bonteheuwel CBD has become a safer place to shop after “community ambassadors” were placed at entry points to reduce crime.

The ward councillor and the Bishop Lavis Community Police Forum are behind the initiative. The 17 community ambassadors took up their positions on Wednesday December 9. They guard all four entrances to the CBD shopping centre.

The team is made up of members of the Bonteheuwel Neighbourhood Watch and Bonteheuwel residents, and its role is to protect shoppers and the elderly and keep “unsavoury characters” out of the centre. Each patroller has a bicycle and a two-way radio so they can report to law enforcement.

Bonteheuwel ward councillor Angus Mckenzie said the patrollers had had safety and first-aid training.

Mr McKenzie said dumping in the CBD had since stopped .

The team would patrol the walkways leading up to the CBD.

“Hopefully this will reduce crime in the CBD area and bring the area back to what it was. They work on a 12-hour shift, but if there are any activities taking place after 6pm they will be stationed there for that as well.

“This is what the area needs, and we have seen an influx of shoppers because they feel safer now. Residents engage with the team and chat with traders as well and they’ve commended the team on good work.”

Abie Clayton, chairman of the Community of Bonteheuwel Association, said the team was doing good work. Pensioners feared being robbed when they drew their pensions, he said. He hoped the initiative would help them to feel safer.

“It will reduce crime in the CBD. They just have to be visible all the time, and I hope that they will be placed here permanently and not just for the season. Bonteheuwel really needs safety structures like this.”

Graham Lindhorst, chairman of the Bishop Lavis CPF, said the same project had run successfully in Bishop Lavis CBD in October.

“If we want to get the CBD back to what it was we need to implement these measures. We initially wanted 36 ambassadors, but due to financial constraints only 17 were possible. It has worked for Bishop Lavis and it definitely will for Bonteheuwel too. There are no more unsavoury characters in the Bishop Lavis CBD, and I am hoping that the same will happen in Bonteheuwel.”