Iliso Lomzi to the help

2015-05-21 06:00


The men and women from the Khanya Neighbourhood Watch put their lives at risk to provide safety for the community. 


PHOTO: 
Mandla Mahashe

The men and women from the Khanya Neighbourhood Watch put their lives at risk to provide safety for the community. PHOTO: Mandla Mahashe

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A group of neighbourhood watchmen from Gugulethu are determined to fight crime and no amount of bullets and knives can stop them, they say.

The group of over 40 men and women from the Khanya Neighbourhood Watch, volunteer to spend their nights patrolling Section 4 and other areas despite clear and present danger.

According to them, two of their members have already been shot at and two other cheated death after being stabbed by thugs because they ‘disturbed their activities’.

City Vision caught up with the group in NY6 while on the patrol to sniff out crime in the area. Donning reflective jackets, communicating through two-way radios, armed with only knobkerries and a dogged determination, the group takes over the night.

“We decided to start this watch in February 2014 after noticing that there were too many robberies in our neighbourhood.

People would get attacked and stabbed by thugs during the day and no one was doing anything about it,” said Solomzi Booi, the group’s leader.

Since they began their work they have confiscated many weapons from criminals as well as recovering stolen goods.

This, they say, has resulted in many in their own community turning against them. “The troublemakers threaten our lives and attack our members while some community members, who are relatives of the thugs, accuse us of beating people in the streets,” he said.

The group also accuse members of the community of rubishing their work in newspapers by making false allegations of beatings.

Nkosinathi Kambi was stabbed by a criminal during a patrol, said though, that the majority of the community appreciated their work.

“As you can see people are walking freely as compared to the past where people’s cars were broken into in the middle of the day.

We have been so effective at recovering stolen goods that people come to report crimes to us as if we were the police,”.

During the interview, a woman approaches the group to report that her son was stealing her money. Cue that.

Kambi says such cases ‘ are all too often’.

Nolufefe Ngcongca whose home was broken into by thugs who stole a Plasma TV, a DVD player, bags, clothes and R5000 in cash, said that her family was assisted by the group to recover the items.

“It happened last month and the neighbourhood watch assisted us with tracking the items all the way to Nyanga East where we found them.

They are doing a great job and we can’t thank them enough for what they did for us.”

She said that she was surprised to find out the group was willing to help even though her family home was not part of the areas that the group was operating in.

Booi said that despite the bad press they get and the constant threats of attacks, they will continue to do the work because of the results.

“Its 21:00 and you can see that people are free to walk to where ever they want and there a no loiters and thugs walking about in our area.

There is peace and that was our goal from the beginning,” Booi concludes

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