The following speech was delivered by City of Cape Town Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, at an equipment handover ceremony to the 2015 Neighbourhood Watch of the Year – the Ikamva Peacemakers of Samora Machel.
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today with the real heroes of Samora Machel.
It is always to humbling to watch ordinary residents come to the rescue of the community by joining forces and doing incredible things.
As a Capetonian, I couldn’t be more proud of the Ikamva Peacemakers.They are the response to the call of concerned parents who were worried about the safety of their children going to and from school.
The parents and teachers in this area were also worried about their children being at risk of falling into drugs and gangsterism.
The parents wanted to protect their children from all the pitfalls which could prevent them from reaching their bright futures.
And so, the Ikamva Peacemakers were born.
Ikamva, meaning ‘future’.
They patrol the routes that learners take to and from school every day, and also monitor them while they are at school during the day, where they are on the lookout for anti-social behaviour.
They do this for five schools in the area.
We know that one of the harshest realities of crime is that it robs our children of a future.
Last year, they received the Neighbourhood Watch of the Year award for their incredible efforts.
According to the Chairperson of the Awards Committee, Mr Hylton Mitchell, they received this award because of their ‘ability to stand out above and beyond the rest.’
The awards committee reports that there has been a notable ‘difference to school attendance in Philippi and increased neighbourhood watch activity (has) resulted in a positive outcome for the community at large.’
They have also strengthened ties in the community, between the community policing forum, the street committees and the South African Police Service.
They have created a whole network of safety, and coordinate their efforts to ensure safety.
I want to thank Bridgadier Ncatha, the station commander of the Nyanga Police Station for the support that he has given to the Ikamva Peacemakers.
I have been told that he often personally joins them on Friday and Saturday nights when they patrol.
Together they conduct searches in gang dens and taverns, confiscating drugs and guns and performing citizen’s arrests.
Thank you for leading by example and prioritising the important work being done here on the ground.
We know that there is only so much we can do to within our limited mandate.
This means that everyone has a role to play, especially communities.
Since 2011, we have trained 5 400 neighbourhood watch members and equipped them with jackets, torches, bicycles and whistles.
This has been a R5,3 million investment since 2013 into empowering communities to take back their streets.
We have started the supply of 450 two-way radios as an extra measure of support because communication is so critical in the work that they do.
We are also in the process of equipping the remaining 4 000 members during this financial year and next few years to follow.
During training, we tell these members that whenever residents fear things like aggressive begging or unruly youths, and withdraw from use of the streets, crime starts to rise because citizen ‘surveillance’ (and consequently reports to police) become extremely limited.
We cannot allow criminals to turn our own homes into jails by using crime to keep us locked indoors.
The streets do not belong to them.
That is why I am so incredibly proud to see groups like Ikamva Peacemakers taking action and taking back their streets.
You are the eyes and ears of the community, and the kind of society that we all want to live in is only possible with your help.
The City has a five-point Community Policing Strategy which was developed after extensive engagement with community policing efforts and neighbourhood watch organisations in order to assist them with their needs.
The strategy includes:
· recruiting and training neighbourhood watch organisations
· resourcing neighbourhood watch organisations
· equipping them with hand-held radios and a digital police radio that links them back to the Metro Police and other emergency control rooms
· recruitment of neighbourhood watch members into the City’s Law Enforcement Auxiliary Service (reservists or ‘specials’ as they are known)
· partnering with and sharing crime intelligence and information with 16 private CCTV networks across the city and developing policies and IT software to assist these private networks and effectively share information
We can and must fight crime together.
In the future, we commit to empowering even more communities and ensuring that they have all they need to continue working with us to building a safe city.
I hope that other neighbourhood watch organisations, but also other residents, will hear the story of the Ikamva Peacemakers today and feel inspired.
I thank you.