Residents want to blow whistle

2016-10-25 06:00
The Gatesville and Rylands neighbourhood watch conducted a march in the neighbourhood last Monday. They were joined by Athlone police, law enforcement and JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security.

The Gatesville and Rylands neighbourhood watch conducted a march in the neighbourhood last Monday. They were joined by Athlone police, law enforcement and JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security.

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Residents of Gatesville and Rylands took to the street last Monday to literally “blow the whistle on crime”.

The march was arranged by Athlone Community Policing Forum’s sector 1, which covers Gatesville, Habibia, Hatton, Pooke se Bos and Rylands.

The campaign aimed to highlight the ongoing struggles of drugs and related illegal activities the community faces. The walk was also about raising issues regarding poor service delivery and crime hotspots in the area. JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security, and Dan Plato, provincial community safety minister, participated in the walk.

“Each one was handed a whistle. At each hotspot, instead of making a noise, shouting, swearing and getting angry over these incidents, we rather stood still and made noise with the whistles. We highlighted it to everyone who was driving past. This is where drug dealing, gambling, prostitution, car theft, loitering and common robbery take place,” says Fowzia Veerasamy, chairperson of the Gatesville and Rylands neighbourhood watch (NHW).

Veerasamy says the march was 100-people strong.

The walk included Balu Parker Boulevard, where issues of construction were raised, which were included in a memorandum handed over to Plato. Among the complaints to Plato was that police dockets are allegedly disappearing from Athlone police station. “I, as the chairperson, handed over the memorandum to the minister, stipulating that some of these dockets disappear,” she says.

Veerasamy says that despite this, they still have a healthy relationship with the police. “Residents like to see interaction and action in immediate effect, because our lives, children’s lives and safety are at risk. The children who play outside witness the drug trade on a daily basis as well as the fighting and drinking. We highlighted the working relationship that Gatesville NHW has with Rylands High School. We assist them as they have assisted us on numerous occasions,” adds Veerasamy.

Plato urged the participants to not remain silent or allow crime to keep them hostage in their own neighbourhoods, as well as to stop protecting children who have been involved in criminal activity.

“If you see them children doing wrong stuff, then you have to report it immediately. That is why there is an influx of problems in our communities. Our communities don’t stand up for what is wrong,” he says.

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