Eyes open, watching

2015-09-01 06:00
This park in Lakeview is one of the hotspots which the new neighbourhood watch intends to “clean up”. 

astrid februarie

This park in Lakeview is one of the hotspots which the new neighbourhood watch intends to “clean up”. PHOTO: astrid februarie

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In a quiet street in Lakeview a small number of residents have established their own neighbourhood watch to keep their eye on crime.

Although there had been a neighbourhood watch previously, it faded out as people lost interest.

Tercia Williams*, (not her real name as she has recieved threats since the establishment of the watch) secretary of the new Lakeview neighbourhood watch, explains that the area is very quiet, so residents did not think much of taking ownership of their safety and the safety of the community.

“We live in an area filled with many elderly residents and very young children and as the years go by we have noticed an increase in crime, to be specific hijacking,” she says.

Williams claims that there has also been an increase in drug-related activity in the area. They have been keeping a close eye on where drugs are being sold.

“We know exactly who is selling and where they are selling from. This is a major concern to us as we see young children in and out of these drug hotspots,” she says.

It’s timeWilliams and several other residents decided that it was time “to clean up” the community and to “take back their streets”.

“When we were growing up drugs and criminal activity were the least of our concerns, but now that we are involved in the safety aspect of the community we see the activity every day. Through establishing the watch we hope to bring an end to this,” she says. The watch was created about two months ago and currently has about 40 members and 20 active patrollers.

The patrollers volunteer their spare time every Friday evening to patrol the streets.

Williams says they go out at specific times when they know there will be activity.

“We want these young children to know that we are watching them, but we also want to, in the process, educate them about safety and security. It is really heartbreaking to see children as young as 10 years old walking around at 00:00 in the morning. We ask ourselves where are their parents?

“If the parents do not take responsibility for their children their children act out and do as they please. This is why you will find them sitting at the park when they are supposed to be at home with their families,” she says. Williams says the park in Manitoba Road is also a place where schoolchildren hang out in the morning during school time.

“We have seen how they sit there and smoke. We are not sure what it is that they are smoking, but we can only imagine, as the people they associate themselves with are known drug peddlers in the community,” she says. The watch members have now taken it upon themselves to monitor the park and urge the children to make their way to school. 

“We have seen a drastic decrease in pupils loitering in the park during school hours and have also informed the schools in the community about their pupils not attending school,” Williams says.

The watch has also built a relationship with the local police station to ensure they can get the help they need when an incident occurs.

“We hope to have more patrols where the police can support us as we support them in their work. We remain the eyes and the ears of the police, but with their presence in the community we feel much safer,” she says.

She urges residents to join the watch and make a difference in the community. Residents are also encouraged to report suspicious behaviour to the police and to be active citizens in helping to deter criminal behaviour in the community.

“We are a small group of people and we really want to build a neighbourhood watch which our children can at some point in the future take ownership of,” she says.
The watch is being formally registered. Once that process is completed they will have an official launch. Their next step would be to establish street committees to get more people in the avenues on board.
The neighbourhood watch will hold a meeting at Square Hall in Joe Marx Boulevard on Friday at 19:30.

Anyone interested in joining the neighbourhood watch can SMS 073 268 2075.

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