It’s been 10 years since two attempted burglaries in the space of a month at Ryno Roberts’ Flamingo Vlei home prompted him, his brother, Waldo Roberts, and uncle, Jan Crafford, to start a small network of radios with neighbours in the street.
The Table View Neighbourhood Watch was born.
Since then it has grown rapidly and clinched the coveted Neighbourhood Watch of the Year Award. The watch is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
There had been no intention to start a watch, said Mr Roberts, as the neighbours had “just wanted to be there for each other”.
But by the end of 2008, it was up and running, and Mr Roberts had his work cut out, navigating the inexperienced organisation with about 100 members.
He admits there were feelings of “animosity” in the beginning between SAPS and the neighbourhood watch.
“They didn’t know what to do with us, and I think they felt we wanted to take over their jobs, but, with time, everyone saw the benefit of helping each other.”
In the past 10 years, he said, there had been a 180-degree turn in the relationship, with SAPS leaning increasingly on the watch’s help to keep Table View’s streets safe.
The watch has had four chairmen to date, with Mr Roberts the longest serving. He was in the position for six years.
Grant Lemos, the current chair, said the watch had become bigger than anyone had anticipated and now had about 900 members.
“We have something very unique in this area. People who live here want to get involved. They want to make a change,” said Mr Lemos.
The watch will launch an app next month, which along with other functions, will let members log their patrol times and report emergencies with the press of a key.
“It is a privilege to lead from the front. I think the community puts huge faith and trust into the chairman and hopefully we will go from strength to strength,” said Mr Lemos.
Mr Roberts said it gave him goosebumps to think how far the watch had come from its humble beginnings.
“We used to have meetings in someone’s house or backyard. Now we have to book out venues,” he said.
Mr Lemos urged people to join the watch, saying it did not belong to the volunteers but to the entire community.
“Fresh blood comes with new ideas,” added Mr Roberts.
The date and venue for the watch’s 10th-anniversary party had yet to be announced, said Mr Lemos.