‘We want a safe haven’

2016-05-31 06:00

Thanks to neighbourhood watches and residents sharing information with police, Ottery has become “calmer” according to Grassy Park police’s station commander.

At a police imbizo held last Thursday at the Ottery multi-purpose centre, residents attended the meeting as a discussion ensued surrounding crime in the area.

Crime issues such as bin scratchers, drug peddling, robberies and safety were concerns raised by residents in attendance and directed to Colonel Shawn Van Wyk, ward councillor Melanie Arendse and community police forum (CPF) chairperson Fuad Titus.

Sector four subforum chairperson Jonathan Africa said during the meeting they “want Ottery to be a safe haven”.
“We need to remove the negative stigma that have latched onto the area for many years. People must feel proud to be from Ottery and we need to constructively build up this area again with residents,” he motivated.

Representatives from the Lotus River Taxi Association say they were concerned for the safety of passengers when they have to take public transport early in the morning. “We would like to thank all roleplayers firstly for contributing towards decreasing crime in our area. Last year crime was up there but this year we can see a drop in it. However, we still have some challenges,” a representative from the Lotus River Taxi Organisation says.

He says passengers are still being targeted by opportunistic criminals.

“Our passengers are being targeted in the early morning and we can’t allow this anymore. There is an alleyway between Aaron and Daniel roads where passengers are targeted, and we want that alleyway to be closed,” he says.

He adds that they saw lots of patrolling during last year, but this year they don’t see it as frequently.

“Even our taxi drivers are being targeted when they park at about 04:00 every morning. We had an incident on Monday morning (23 May) and we informed police. They were on the scene very quick and we thank them for that. However, we need police to patrol there regularly so our passengers and drivers are not traumatised,” he says.

Van Wyk and Grassy Park police sector manager Constable Eugene Nel say they will action the request and will look into the situation.

Sixth Street Neighbourhood Watch also willingly offered to patrol the area during the time to ensure passengers and drivers are safe.

Nel says he has been receiving a lot of assistance from neighbourhood watches in the sector and thanked them for their efforts.

“The neighbourhood watches in the area are really doing a good job when it comes to patrolling.

“Sixth Street and Carola Way neighbourhood watches are really making our tasks easier with their assistance over the weekend,” Nel says.

Ferness Estate residents also voiced their concerns at the meeting, saying they feel neglected by the police.
“It may seem to police that the area is quiet but this is not the case. We have had property crimes relating to burglaries in our area as well as drugs now making their way into our community and we need this to be prioritised,” one resident says.

Van Wyk says the police have taken cognisance of the concerns and take down details from residents who have information about properties where drugs are sold.

“We need our communities to work with us and give us information with regard to crime activities. It’s not necessary to give your names on the phone when you call with information relating to crime. Our main focus and concern is the information to ensure arrests are made,” Van Wyk says.

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