Valley safety and security under the spotlight

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille is pictured with Fish Hoek resident, Marc Edwards; mayoral committee member for safety and security, and social services, JP Smith; community police forum chairman, André Blom and ward councillor, Felicity Purchase.

Far south residents called for action to be taken after cyclist, Ian McPherson was robbed and murdered (“Cyclist stabbed to death,” Echo, March 15).

Since Mr McPherson’s death last Tuesday, several community meeting have been held and residents have expressed their concern about the growing crime rate in the valley.

When Fish Hoek resident, Marc Edwards tweeted Western Cape Premier Helen Zille requesting a community meeting to discuss proactive measures against crime following Mr McPherson’s murder, he did not expect an immediate response.

But one tweet was all it took to fill the Fish Hoek High School hall to the brim on Tuesday evening.

Discussions included the vital role of community police forums (CPF) and neighbourhood watches to safeguard the community as well as various safety concerns from residents as far as Simon’s Town and Ocean View.

In her address, Ms Zille said the biggest cause of crime in the Western Cape was substance abuse and according to the latest statistics from a survey of the South African Institute of Race Relations, crime associated with substance abuse had gone up 7000% since the 1990s. And, she said, substance abuse went hand in hand with gangsterism which had deep roots in the Western Cape.

She said gangsterism was often associated with intimidation of an entire community and setting up of parallel structures which made it difficult for police to do their work.

“That is why we need a community approach,” she said

In these instances, many communities turn around and blame the police but at the same time there is intimidation of law abiding people in gang-dominated communities which strengthens gangsterism.”

She said the abuse of police resources by members of the community, such as stoning vehicles when they were called out, should stop. Mayoral committee member for safety, and security, and social services, JP Smith revealed interesting statistics from a book, Home Invasion, by Professor Rudolph Zinn, which indicated that the average housebreaker would invade a home 113 times before being caught. Interviews Professor Zinn conducted with 30 home invaders revealed that neighbourhood watches were the single most effective deterrent.

He stressed the importance of neighbourhood watches and urged the community to get involved.

Other addresses by Andre van Schalkwyk from Table Mountain Watch and Jason Hartman, deputy chairman of the CPF and Capri Neighbourhood Watch provided residents with an overview of how the various structures were interlinked and stressed the importance of community participation.

Others at the meeting included members of the CPF and neighbourhood watches, members of SAPS, DA chief whip, Mark Wiley, Major General Mpumelelo Manci and Community Safety MEC Dan Plato.

For more information about the CPF or to join, visit their Facebook page: CommunityPoliceForum.