The minister of community safety, Albert Fritz was full of praise for members of the non-profit company, Community Crime Prevention (CCP) Hout Bay, during his visit to the Watchcon emergency control room on Thursday 26 September.
Fritz visited the control room’s new premises at 9 Princess Road, Hout Bay, to hand over a check of R9 000 to CCP volunteer Bradley Brown; operations manager, JJ De Villiers and tech manager, Jarryd Scholtz, for their roles in the arrest of suspects in the murder of Ukrainian hiker Ivan Ivanov at East Fort, Chapman’s Peak Drive, in Hout Bay on Saturday 27 July.
The first suspect was arrested within 10 minutes of the crime taking place.
Fritz said he was actually met with disbelief when he shared this story with visiting dignitaries.
“This is such a testament to what can be done when civil society gets involved. The question is how can we replicate this kind of structure in other hotspot areas,” Fritz said.
Responding to an alert sent out on Buzzer – a free safety app spearheaded by CCP and the Hout Bay community – De Villiers, Scholtz and Brown responded to the incident and co-ordinated the arrest of the first suspect and handed him over to the police.
CCP later received a tip-off that the remaining two suspects were in Hangberg which led to their arrest a few days later.
Fritz thanked the CCP members for their efforts and took a moment to recognise the many other volunteers in neighbourhood watches, community policing forums, police and private security companies who gave tirelessly of themselves to keep their communities safe.
“In terms of section 29 of the Western Cape Community Safety Act, 2013 (Act 3 of 2013) and in recognition of Meritorious Service in Promoting the Purpose of the Act, the CCP volunteers were awarded,” he said.
Fritz said the quick action was proof that the systems implemented at Watchcon worked. He extended an invitation to the CCP team to attend a safety and security summit planned for middle October at Houw Hoek Inn, to share their “best practices” with five other municipal districts.
Watchcon, managed by CCP, is a neutral platform which works cohesively with all service providers, including neighbourhood watches, private security firms, police and emergency response units, in Hout Bay to ensure a swift response to any incident.
Cross says about 98% of all incidents in the community – be it crime-related; emergencies, for example, fires; or the need for medical assistance – get reported to the 24-hour control room. It even assists when snakes are spotted – something which, says Cross, can happen up to two times a day in the summer.
Staff and volunteers also monitor 23 licence plate recognition cameras with another four to be installed within the next few months. “We are alerted when suspicious vehicles or vehicles previously linked to a crime enter Hout Bay, and can track these vehicles and alert Saps when necessary,” says De Villiers.
Since CCP took over management in April 2018, Watchcon has made huge inroads in the fight against crime by setting up a closed-camera network and an effective communication “triangle” between the reporter (the residents), the responder (a resident or a professional) and the monitor ( the coordinator).
In addition to the Buzzer app, reported on in People’s Post (“Buzzer rings in new era of safety”, 17 September), it has developed several IT systems, for example, a repeat-offender and an informant database.
Thanks to its latest initiative, a car guard project through which car guards were fingerprinted and outfitted with formal uniforms, car break-ins in the area have dropped by 82%.
All of this has been accomplished thanks to the efforts of two full-time employees and a small group of volunteers.
“The control room is completely run on donations. We would like to do so much more and would be grateful for any contributions,” says Cross.
- Visit https://ccphoutbay.co.za/fundraising/ for information on how to get involved.