Walk blows whistle on crime hot spots

The mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, chats to neighbourhood watch members and residents.

The Gatesville Neighbourhood Watch, together with its Rylands and Habibia counterparts, is seeking “serious attention” to create a safer environment, following a walkabout of crime hot spots.

The walkabout on Monday October 17, from 6pm to 8pm, started at Rylands High School.

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato ward councillor Aslam Cassiem, mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith and representatives of Athlone SAPS and law enforcement, as well as residents of Gatesville, Rylands, Hatton Estate and Habibia, joined the neighbourhood watches on the walk.

Fowzie Veerasamy, chairperson of both the Gatesville Neighbourhood Watch and the Athlone Community Police Forum (CPF) Sector 1 Sub-Forum, said during the walk, people were encouraged to blow whistles when they passed hot spot areas.

“Everybody who joined the walk, was given a water bottle and a whistle. We went to identify crime hot spots to blow our whistle. In Gatesville Road, some of the crimes highlighted were the illegal drug and gun trade. There have been two murders in that area already.

Near Gatesville post office, there’s also a line of trees, which criminals use to hide. They jump out of these trees to rob people. We also went to shops in Gatesville that sell packaging, and we suspect the very small packets are being bought by drug peddlers to be used for tik or dagga. Shops who sell cellular phones are also regularly targeted by robbers and thieves.

“In Hazel Road, the challenge is prostitution, car thefts and phone thefts. We also highlighted house robberies, vagrancy, car guards, illegal dumping and the poor visibility because of outdated street lights. There are also three informal settlements and in College Road, the night club brings its own sets of challenges,” Ms Veerasamy said.

The Gatesville Neighbourhood Watch was started in November last year, by a group of women.

Ms Veerasamy said Gatesville and Rylands were areas seen as wealthy, but “we have serious issues and there is a lack of service delivery”.

With this walk, they are hoping law enforcement agencies will focus on the crime hot spots and they have called on the Athlone SAPS to strengthen ties with the neighbourhood watches and the Athlone CPF Sector 1 Sub-Forum.