Safety team celebrate first week’s success

Officers searched a suspect while on patrol.

The presence of the Neighbourhood Safety Team (NST) in Bonteheuwel has already made a significant difference, with no gang-related murders reported this past weekend, said Ward 50 councillor, Angus McKenzie.

This comes after 100 law enforcement officers were deployed there and officially started their duties on Tuesday July 2.

The group works in shifts in Bonteheuwel, Valhalla Park and Bishop Lavis to help combat crime and anti-social behaviour.

While admitting it was still early days, Mr McKenzie said the previous weekend, four people had been killed in the area.

“During the first week of implementation, nine arrests were made, countless drugs confiscated, and one firearm and ammunition were also confiscated. More importantly, not one person died this weekend because of gang violence. This is an amazing start for this team set to take back control of Bonteheuwel from gangsters. While it is still early days, as a community we celebrate this achievement,” Mr McKenzie said.

The officers’ duties include maintaining a visible presence, dealing with by-law transgressions and assisting with crime prevention duties in conjunction with the City’s metro police and traffic service, as well as the South African Police Service.

The City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said the need for intervention in Bonteheuwel and surrounding areas was clear, judging by the increase in gang-related violence and the resultant fatalities.

“This, coupled with the fact that there is no police station in Bonteheuwel, were the factors that impacted our decision to roll out the second Neighbourhood Safety Team in this area,” he said.

“The NST model focuses on enforcement, including stop-and-search operations, vehicle checkpoints and visible patrols. However, there is also a social element that will include everything from logging service requests for City-related infrastructure like broken street lights and missing drain covers, to enforcing by-laws and even addressing truancy.

“The NST model takes a ‘whole of community’ approach. Our teams will work with residents, community organisations, schools and other interested and affected parties to achieve a common goal of making Bonteheuwel safer.”

Resident and activist, Shafiek de Bruyn, said while he hoped for the best for the NST, he had his “reservations”. He said the officers deployed to the area must know it well for this initiative to be a successful one.

Carmen Engel from the Bonteheuwel Neighbourhood Watch said they welcomed any assistance they could get in the fight against crime.