Women protect workers

2016-10-04 06:00
A few of the women who patrol the streets of Ottery stand proundly in their patrol gear. The group of mothers and parents decided to take a stand against crime in their area despite criticism from other residents. PHOTO: Chevon Booysen

A few of the women who patrol the streets of Ottery stand proundly in their patrol gear. The group of mothers and parents decided to take a stand against crime in their area despite criticism from other residents. PHOTO: Chevon Booysen

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A group of concerned mothers and women from Ottery have taken up the baton for safety and security in their area. And after just a month of action they can already see positive results.

The group of women started a safety initiative in the area on 1 September. They say they are happy their crime fighting is already paying off.

Adrian Williams says the initiative started when the group decided “enough was enough”.

“There was a point where there was a lot of crime in the area. And as parents we took a stand and said we no longer wanted it in our community. What also strengthened the cause is that these are also mothers of children who are part of the problem in the area and we decided we won’t stand back,” she explains.

She adds that they were tired of listening to complaints instead of taking action against the crime in the area.

“We still find that people complain about the crime issues in our area but we are but a group of 15. We urge people to come on board, take responsibility and accountability for their communities and join us in our fight against crime,” Williams says.

The women say they decided to patrol their areas and specifically target the hotspots where robberies occur.

Anthea Lewis, one of the dedicated patrollers, says they have a few target areas.

“Our children come home frustrated sometimes because either their friends were robbed or they were robbed and this is why we need to protect our community so that it can stop from happening,” Lewis says.

She says residents who commute to work are sometimes forced to part with their cellphones, money and personal belongings.

“But due to our visibility at these hotspots these incidents have decreased a lot in the past month. We post a group at each hotspot ensuring those travelling to or from work get there safely,” Lewis says.

The women say it hasn’t been easy to reap the rewards.

“At the beginning people in the area were divided in their positivity about the initiative.”

“Some people thank us for the work we do and others are sceptical because we are mothers to trouble-makers in the area. But this is why we want people to see we are serious about curbing crime in our area, because the rod is not saved from them either. We urge people to join us and to make this initiative a successful one,” they say.

Williams says they want members of the Ottery community to become united in their stand against crime.

“We need to tackle this issue together and bring that sense of ‘your child is my child’ back to our community. We are also so proud of our youth who have joined us in taking up the baton. This is an inter-generational approach,” Williams says.

The women say they have been getting support from the Grassy Park police while on patrols. “But our residents need to know that we are not the police. We are women that patrol with two dogs at night and sticks that we pick up. So if they should find themselves in a situation, it must be reported to the police station. That is the correct procedure so that police can know these things are happening,” Alexandra Bester says.

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