Blow to community as security guard project ends

2014-03-19 00:00

THE city’s Urban Movement Zone (UMZ) security guard initiative will come to an end this month — a move that community organisations are dreading.

Dr Musa Gumede, the municipality’s deputy city manager in community and emergency services, said the UMZ, which formed part of the Urban Renewal Programme, was a pilot project.

The guards are posted in Warwick Junction, Margaret Mncandi Avenue, Albert Park, CBD, back of beach front, Botanic Gardens, down Che Guevara Road, Addington and Sandile Thusi Road. The 642 guards who were employed in the programme will lose their jobs.

“We wanted to see how effective this will be in combating crime. It was for a short period and unfortunately we did not budget for the whole year. You cannot fund a pilot project for a long period of time,” said Gumede.

He said the city acknowledged that the guards provide citizens with comfort in a number of ways.

“They apprehend suspected criminals and call the police to effect arrests. They also report issues of service delivery such as when they see that rubbish has not been collected in a certain area, and anything else that needed municipal attention.”

Gumede said the municipality may look at reintroducing the system later in the year.

Sagrie Chellan, who runs a business on North Beach, said she felt safe to walk the streets in the presence of the guards. “I wish there could have been more of them in every part of the city. Every morning and evening, it’s easy to walk around without worrying about bag or cellphone snatchers. Now that winter is approaching, it’s going to get dark early. People on their way home and to the bus stop or taxi rank will be vulnerable to criminals,” said Chellan.

Policing forums also saw the termination of the contract as a blow to crime fighting.

Berea and Glenwood Community Safety Forum chairperson Ben Madokwe said the guards had two-way radios which made it easy for them to “nail” suspected criminals. “They easily made contact with law enforcers when a criminal activity took place. Our crime rate doesn’t allow us to abandon initiatives like this one once they are in place. As we have moved a step ahead, removing these guards mean we are taking two steps backwards,” he said.

Vice chairperson of the Bulwer Community Policing Forum Jennie Well echoed Madokwe’s sentiments.

“Why do away with something that works well for the community? People will again become sitting targets for criminals in and around the city,” she said.

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