Welcome Estate community unites against crime

Ward 44 councillor Anthony Moses addresses Welcome Estate residents. With him is Charles Alexander, a resident who arranged the meeting.

Welcome Estate Primary School hosted a community meeting to garner the support of the residents to help curb break-ins and vandalism at the school.

The school also appealed for the community’s help to ensure the safety of its pupils while on their way to and from school.

Charles Alexander, a Welcome Estate resident who arranged and chaired the meeting, said apart from the safety aspect, the school is also affected by lack of service delivery, illegal dumping and broken street lights, which all makes the school vulnerable.

“Everything that happens in the community tends to spill over into the school. Welcome Estate Primary School experienced severe break-ins and is especially vulnerable at night, on weekends and over school holidays. We are also aware that there are other schools in the ward with the same, or even more serious challenges,” Mr Alexander said.

Various stakeholders, including Ward 44 councillor, Anthony Moses, mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, Manenberg SAPS station commander, Brigadier Sanele Zama, Manenberg Community Police Forum (CPF), and neighbourhood watch members, were in attendance.

Mr Moses told the meeting that dumping is an overall challenge for the City of Cape Town. He added that there is a closed circuit television camera (CCTV) in the area. He urged residents to get reference numbers when reporting a service request from the City of Cape Town, as that makes it easier to track whether the complaint has been attended to.

“Getting a reference number is the only way to put pressure on getting service delivery. Also, an effective way to fight crime is a community approach to crime prevention,” Mr Moses said.

Manenberg CPF chairperson, Vernon Visagie, said crime must be fought in unison. Referring to the gang violence, he said “things were falling apart in Heideveld as the bodies were piling up”.

Major-General VIncent Beaton, the Cape Town district commissioner, who also attended the meeting, said: “You would not be here if you were not concerned about crime. People want to be part of the solution. Gangsters are in the minority and if we stand together we can deal with them. As SAPS, there is nothing we can do without the neighbourhood watch members.”

He also urged the community to report any crime, as he found that there were many instances of under-reporting.

Responding to a resident who questioned the police’s response time after survivors of an armed robbery waited for three hours after it had been reported, Brigadier Zama said reactive time should be around 15 minutes.

“Having to wait for three hours is unacceptable,” he said.

Welcome and Vanguard Estate Neighbourhood Watch chairperson, Saleem Orrie, said in one month, 15 break-ins were reported in the area. He, too, urged the community to speak out against any criminal activity.

“If you see something, say something. We must all stand together,” Mr Orrie said.

Mr Smith agreed, saying tip-offs are invaluable.

“The Metro police, in joint operations with SAPS, confiscate up to 30 illegal firearms off the street in a month. This is because of the tip-offs received,” he said.

Welcome Estate Primary School principal, Catherine Solomons, said they are in dire need of a new fence, as the broken fence made access onto the school grounds easy. She thanked all the role-players for their support, adding that she is at the school for one year now, and is looking forward to working with them for positive outcomes.

Brigadier Zama urged anyone who has service delivery complaints about SAPS, to call 082 469 3007.