Sweeping streets clean

2016-07-12 06:05
 A group of women, dubbed the Sweeping Ladies, are taking back their streets. PHOTO: nicole mccain

A group of women, dubbed the Sweeping Ladies, are taking back their streets. PHOTO: nicole mccain

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A group of Ocean View women are sweeping their streets clean of crime. Literally.

Dubbed the “sweeping ladies”, women in Aries Avenue have taken safety into their own hands and formed a street committee to guard against criminal elements.

PR councillor Patricia Francke says many of the residents in the council houses in Aries Avenue have lived there for years and form the “backbone of the community”.

“It used to be a safe street, but last year crime started to escalate,” she says.

Smaller incidents such as the theft of washing from washing lines has escalated into criminals using the street and properties as a thoroughfare.

Francke began working with all the women at home during the day – some mothers and some pensioners – and they established a WhatsApp group. “If they see someone that doesn’t belong in the street, they all come out with their brooms and a cup of coffee or hot water,” Francke explains.

“They start sweeping towards that person, as if to say ‘we will sweep you out of the street’,” she says.

The coffee or hot water also acts as a self-defence tool, Francke explains, with the women able to throw it to ward off any advancing threats.

Resident Donovan Fritz says although the community still experiences crime at night, it has all but stopped during the day when the sweeping ladies are on guard.

The residents have now also implemented a system with whistles to prevent crime and alert other neighbours to incidents at night.

Theresa Martin, one of the sweeping ladies, says being part of the solution feels good and the community is grateful to them.

Although it is difficult to measure the impact the women have had on crime figures, Ocean View Community Policing Forum chairperson Kathy Cronje says any initiative to combat crime in the community is welcomed.

“Anything that the community does to combat crime is a good thing – even if it is sweeping the streets,” she says.

“It’s good to see the community trying to find inventive ways to take back their streets.”

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