Mothers on patrol

2017-07-24 13:45
Citizen on patrol, Mayor’s Walk resident Margaret Farooqi holds up the high heel shoe she wore when she chased a thief up Stott Road last year. The single mother of two is helping to clear the area of crime as well as showing people that women are just as capable as men when it comes to fighting crime.

Citizen on patrol, Mayor’s Walk resident Margaret Farooqi holds up the high heel shoe she wore when she chased a thief up Stott Road last year. The single mother of two is helping to clear the area of crime as well as showing people that women are just as capable as men when it comes to fighting crime. (Ian Carbutt)

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From chasing criminals in high heels, to night patrols on foot, a local Pietermaritzburg woman is breaking the mould and taking woman power to a new level.

The country has seen a rise in the number of murders and violent attacks against women and children this year alone, and with women’s month just around the corner, one Pietermaritzburg single mother of two is breaking the stereotype of women being the weaker sex.

Petite and soft-spoken, Mayor’s Walk resident Margaret Farooqi (40) joined the Prestbury neighbourhood watch during the middle of last year after she and a family member noticed a man stealing the lock from a neighbour’s gate.

She said they approached the man and confronted him and found a bag filled with gate locks from people’s homes. The man tried to make a run for it.

Farooqi, who was wearing high heels at the time of the incident, gave chase, and ran after the man up Stott Road.

“I decided then that I wanted to help wherever I can,” she said.

She said she did not feel frightened while patrolling on her own and although some people had been shocked to see her on patrol, she felt that anything a man could do, a woman could do too.

“I am helping my community and I feel it is important to have more women stand together and be active in their neighbourhood watches.”

She said she had heard of many violent crimes against women in the country this year so far and that it was time for women to take charge.

“Enough is enough. Whatever a man does, a woman can do too.”

Farooqi said that she had recently been patrolling the neighbourhood when she came across a security company outside a house and the alarm was going off.

“The security guards were too afraid to jump over the fence and check the perimeter so I jumped over to have a look,” she said, laughing.

Farooqi said she was grateful for the neighbourhood watch and the job they did in protecting their community and was happy that she could also play a role in keeping her area safe.

Prestbury community watch’s Russell George said although the patrols were largely done by men, he would love to see more women join and become more active in community policing.

He said there had been women who were eager to assist in patrols and encouraged them to get involved.

A local policewoman who could not be named said it was important to break the image that men were better at handling security-related issues.

“I am fully trained as a policewoman and I am expected to do the same job as a policeman,” she said.

“I feel that women are mostly more calm and able to better diffuse volatile situations,” she said.

“A person that is not fully trained as police or security, even men, can still be in danger. There is no difference.

“If you are a man, you can still be a target for crime. It is unfair to say women are not as good or are weaker than a man.

“I know many women who are much tougher than many men. There should be more women involved in community watches.

“I think women are told it is too dangerous for them and they cannot do what their male counterparts can so they just stay at home but they must not listen to this because it is not true.”

Another policewoman who could not be named said that neighbourhood watches operate 24 hours a day and do not just consist of patrols.

She said being involved in community watches meant being vigilant, keeping an eye on your neighbours’ homes and keeping watch for any unfamiliar vehicles or people in the area.

“There is a perception that women are too emotional and hysterical when it comes to issues such as this but we cannot generalise or stereotype.

“People must not undermine and underestimate a woman and what she is capable of just because she is a woman.”

Meanwhile, the women of Lotus Park in Isipingo have decided to take action against the crime in the area by forming a community policing forum comprising only of women.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Zwane said of the sub community policing forum formed by women in Isipingo that the police appreciated any initiatives that would assist in fighting crime in the area.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  community policing

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