Watches back on the beat

Zaida Samuels, Lieutenant Colonel Carol Fisher, Colonel Shawn van Wyk, Noelene Wicomb, Robin Wicomb, Riaz Rayloon and Nasief Abrahams.

Neighbourhood watches can patrol the streets again under level 3 lockdown, but they need permits to do so.

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz says only his department, not SAPS, can issue these permits and they will only do so for accredited watches.

Lansdowne Community Police Forum chairman Rafique Foflonker said all 14 watches in the precinct had permits. Mr Foflonker said crime had risen in the area while the watches had stood down.

Sandra Malan, chairwoman of the Bonteheuwel Neighbourhood Watch, said their 40-odd members were still waiting for permits but were eager to resume patrols because the last two weeks had seen sporadic shooting in the area, and criminals had taken advantage of the watch’s absence.

They would focus on the crime hot spot at the Bluegum Street traffic lights, she said.

“Our guys want to be active, we want to patrol and protect our communities. We need to know what is happening in our streets.”

AthCraw Neighbourhood Watch chairman Steven Adriaanse said their 20-odd members were also waiting for permits, and they also wanted to know if they would get personal protective equipment.

“These items are costly and a lot of people are not working yet due to the lockdown so they cannot purchase it themselves. This is a volunteer service and there is a safety budget so how will they use that to assist us?”

The watch would only do visibility patrols for now and avoid contact with suspects, he said. Anyone caught with drugs would be handed over to the police.

“We have seen more crime in the area since the lockdown with more house break-ins and burglars jumping over people’s walls and stealing things from their yards.”

Penlyn Estate Neighbourhood Watch chairman Riyaad Mohidin said the CPF had all their information already so they wouldn’t be applying for permits as they felt it was unnecessary to do so.

Members were ready to patrol, but their health and safety were paramount, he said.

“Criminals don’t need permits to operate so why do we? Our members will be stopped each time and asked for their permits, and I do not see that going down well. Our members are not okay with their personal information being shared again.”