Christine Williams, Dunoon
Last week I got robbed in broad daylight.
As I was putting something inside my car, I turned around to see a man approach me to ask me a question. In a matter of seconds, a knife flashed before my eyes and he demanded I hand over my bag. Reluctantly I complied.
As fast as he had appeared, he vanished down the road with my bag, containing two years’ worth of information on a laptop, a back-up USB, my iPhone 5, my leather wallet, two pairs of sunglasses, phone chargers and the little Grade 7 assignments I promised to mark.
This experience reminded me of why I love Dunoon. I lived in Dunoon for two years and have been working in it for much longer as I run the non-profit organisation MyDunoon and never have I been robbed.
Although there are some baddies in the community, the good people far outnumber the bad. Many people comforted me and offered their assistance. But one particular group blew me away.
Meet Thandi and the Community Watch. I have been in contact with Thandi before, and although I’ve always thought they did great work, I got to witness this first hand.
Friends called her after they heard about my mugging, and she immediately spread the word for the group to convene for an emergency meeting that evening.
As the sun went down, we met in a steel container on the edge of Dunoon. A handful of men and women rallied together after their long day jobs to listen to me recount the incident. As soon as I finished, instructions were given and everyone got up to leave. I thought they would just be keeping their eyes out for the guy we had already identified. Nope. This was a full-scale man-hunt.
They walked the streets of Dunoon until after midnight. My colleague’s summary the next day was: “I saw a side to Dunoon I don’t want to see again.” He explained how they followed the trail of the thief into shacks filled with drugged-up youths. They ventured into the most dangerous and wild parts that Dunoon had to offer, and this small group of unarmed normal men and women were not phased. They are sick of the crime in Dunoon and have been driven to action.
My case was not the first they have assisted on. They patrol the streets in late hours of the weekend — the dangerous hours that most crime takes place. They have been shot at as they challenged dubious “business” owners, they have returned stolen goods and assisted the police in many cases. These tired, ordinary men and women are modern-day heroes.
Unfortunately, for me, we did not manage to find the thief and get my bag back — although, even as I write this — they are still determined. I, however, will continue to serve the community.
Even if this robbery has set MyDunoon back, we are fuelled by the passion of our fellow community members and will see Dunoon become the place we know it can be.
The community watch is made up of residents that do this as volunteers. Many have full-time work, most are holding down tiring jobs and doing this out of the goodness of their heart with little resources.
They would love: walkie talkies, funding for a permanent base, more winter jackets and gloves. If you would like to contribute, please let us know.
If you are from Dunoon and would like to volunteer to be part of the community watch – you are more than welcome.
I was amazed at how many women are part of this organisation. Our encouragement is simple – let’s join forces and work together to ensure our streets are safe.