Car watch on ice for now

Shortly after the announcement of a car watch initiative to be launched in Ward 23 by councillor Nora Grose, the plan was put on hold after SAPS, the community police forum (CPF) and private security companies, failed to endorse it (“Car watch plan questioned,” Tabletalk October 26).

The project, announced on the Ward 23 Facebook page on Sunday October 16, hoped to see a formalised car watch group, which would be vetted by the neighbourhood watch structure, deployed in various areas in Ward 23 to improve safety.

The initiative was modelled on the car watch currently active in the Melkbosstrand area, under the supervision of Melkbosstrand Neighbourhood Watch.

The guards undergo background checks and are then supplied with bibs so they can be identified and monitored.

According to Ms Grose, the initiative was started as most residents have reached a point of frustration with car guards and are usually confronted with beggars posing as car guards.

“In some instances, motorists or visitors are verbally abused by these guards,” said Ms Grose.

Shortly after the announcement was made on the Ward 23 Facebook page, Table View resident Martin Horn raised concerns about the initiative on the Table View Frustrated Ratepayers’ page.

Mr Horn said that some of the guards who were part of the programme had pending criminal cases and many had been found guilty of criminal offences.

“This initiative was not discussed with SAPS, the CPF or any armed response company. Actually one of the people in this very picture appeared in court just last week. His case was postponed,” said Mr Horn.

Arno Pieterse said: “I am still of the opinion, though, that this is the reason private security companies exist, where individuals that qualify, can be gainfully employed while receiving a proper salary. ‘Donations’ and ‘handouts’ for parking cars is counter productive, and rapidly opens the doors to the same old illegal ‘car guarding’ issues many areas face.”

Table View Neighbourhood Watch (TVNW) has raised concerns about who will monitor the initiative and ensure that the background checks are done.

“The greater plan is a good idea, but how to go about executing the plan is the problem. Everyone would need to buy into it, then it stands a better chance of surviving. If it is to go forward, it is not to be rushed into, it needs everyone’s buy-in, from CPF and other structures to ensure its success,” said TVNW spokeswoman, Lee McBride.

Ms McBride said the project had not been canned, but simply put on hold for six months while the logistics were sorted out.

Ms Grose said another meeting between herself and security structures, such as the neighbourhood watch and CPF, would be planned next week to get clarity on the initiative’s future.

She declined to comment further until that meeting had taken place.