Sweeping the streets

2017-10-24 06:01
Fred Norman, chairperson of the Lincoln Estate Neighbourhood Watch, displays the accreditation certificate they were given by the Western Cape department of community safety.PHOTO: Earl Haupt

Fred Norman, chairperson of the Lincoln Estate Neighbourhood Watch, displays the accreditation certificate they were given by the Western Cape department of community safety.PHOTO: Earl Haupt

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For Fred Norman, chairperson of the Lincoln Estate Neighbourhood Watch, it is simple: Engage with residents to keep residential crime to a minimum.

Founded in 1994, the neighbourhood watch has recently been given its official accreditation by the Western Cape Department of Community Safety.

“We were founder members of the Athlone Community Policing Forum (CPF) and we base our whole concept on good neighbourliness. Because we believe in the neighbours closest to you. If you can get that right, then we are half way to eradicating crime. We will never be able to get rid of crime, but we have brought crime down to a respectable level and the crime statistics here reveal that there is no crime to be worried about,” says Norman.

He adds that the organisation takes part in more than just keeping the neighbourhood safe. They are part of a drug rehabilitation programme at St John the Evangelist Church in Belgravia Road as well as regular programmes at and support for Leliebloem Home.

“We renovated the trauma room at Athlone Police Station twice. We had a soccer tournament with the schools and clubs in the area, in association with the police and the soccer club that I am involved with. We want to reach the children, because we have talks on crime prevention,” says Norman.

Currently, the watch has 50 volunteers who patrol the estimated 300 houses in the area between Belgravia Road in the west, Elwyn Road in the east, Port Jackson Road in the south and Brand Road in the north.

“We believe that it must be manageable and the manpower must be available. It is no good spreading too wide, especially for the senior people and children we care for,” adds Norman.

Norman says the watch and the Gatesville Neighbourhood Watch are the only two accredited watches in the Athlone CPF cluster.

“We had to prove to the Western Cape community safety department that we have patrollers who do not have criminal records, which is one of the requirements for accreditation. We had to prove the membership in the area.

“I know all the people here and spent most of my life here and it is mostly for the seniors. This is a very close-knit community,” he says.

He adds that while they do not adopt a violent approach, constant visibility and engaging with residents and religious organisations in the area are important.

“We should get more people involved, especially younger residents, so that they can take the process forward. I believe that there must be sustainability. Crime will always be there.

“People must forget about their differences and issues. Crime affects all and the only common enemy here is crime. We are doing it because we want to live in a safe area. We don’t want to live with our shutters closed and high walls. The residents must be the eyes and ears of the police,” adds Norman.

Norman has spent most of his life in the area and says the community was not always as close-knit as it is today, because they have had to deal with and rid the area of ills that existed years ago.

“One drug dealer, I remember, we confronted and I told him that we were not going to move and that he should move, unless he abided by what we subscribed to in our area. He eventually left the area and got killed somewhere else.

“Here we use subtle diplomacy. Here we don’t even walk around with batons or a stick. This is not an area for guns and violence. Break down the ill with love and respect, then the battle is half won and you just sweep up the rest.”

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