Sanddrift watch plan put to vote

About 60 residents put pen to ballot paper at a meeting on Monday night to select one neighbourhood watch to oversee Sanddrift East, Sanddrift West and Sanddrift North.

The two other options residents could have chosen were separate neighbourhood watches for Sanddrift East, Sanddrift West and Sanddrift North; or nine neighbourhood block watches with nine block captains on an executive committee.

Currently, there is one neighbourhood watch and one block watch operating in the area.

The meeting was called by the police and the Community Policing Forum sub-forum sector 4 after two groups in the area wanted to register a neighbourhood watch.

Milnerton station commander Brigadier Marius Stander explained that the problem with that was that neighbourhood watches’ boundaries could not overlap.

As of September 1, the Department of Community Safety changed the laws governing the establishment of neighbourhood watches. Now all neighbourhood watches need more comprehensive accreditation. Among other things, they have to clearly identify their operational boundaries and have a good relationship with the police and local CPF.

While many were gazing at the supermoon outside, the residents who met in the small hall at the Baptist church in Pringle Road were more interested in getting some straight answers about crime in their neighbourhood.

Brigadier Stander had his hands full as many complained about crime in the area and blamed power struggles for derailing community efforts to keep crime in check.

Brigadier Stander said that although the community was divided they shouldn’t forget they still had a common goal.

“We are actually one community, and we have one enemy and that’s crime. When I compare crime in this area to other areas, it’s actually very low, because no matter how much fighting there is amongst each other, you still see the common enemy and that is crime.”

The meeting grew tense as those for and against block watches gave their opinions. One resident said block watches were a great idea because you could patrol while you were “dropping your children at school or on your way to the shop”. Another countered that they did not benefit the whole community.

Sub-council sector 4 chairman Leslie Martch said the voting was only the first step in the process.

“The decision was made by the public to have one neighbourhood watch, now the next step would be an annual general meeting to elect community representatives for the watch,” he said.

The AGM was scheduled for the same venue on Monday December 5, at 7pm.

Brigadier Stander said the residents’ decision to go with one neighbourhood watch showed the community wanted to be unified.

“How you are going to structure this committee is your decision. All I ask is that you elect the right people and have representatives from all over the area,” he said.

On the Sanddrift Community Facebook page, William Mcnulty posted: “At least now we can all move forward from what was decided and get back to protecting our areas because we are all one now.”

Yolanda Webb posted that the meeting had been a “real eye opener”. “I thought our town was bad, but now I’ve seen it all. It’s supposed to be about trying to protect one another and our area. Very disheartening.”

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