Watches seek clarity on level 3 regulations

Chairwoman of the Brooklyn Ysterplaat Neighbourhood Watch, Cheryl Castle, wants more details from Department of Community Safety on the rules and regulations patrolling during lockdown level 3.

Neighbourhood watches have received the rubber stamp to return to volunteering duties under level 3 lockdown, but watches want more information before returning to patrols.

Restrictions placed on neighbourhood watches at the start of lockdown in March were lifted on Monday during a meeting between the Department of Community Safety (DOCS) and the National Secretary of Police.

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz, said the neighbourhood watches would help to prevent crime.

“During the lockdown, we have seen an increase in vandalism of schools and shop robberies, in rural and urban communities alike.

“I have heard the call of the many neighbourhood watches and community police forums (CPFs) who have raised their hands and offered their support during this difficult period and am pleased to announce that neighbourhood watches may now operate.’

Mr Fritz said watches would be deployed to Covid-19 hot spots to help enforce physical distancing.

He said DOCS would issue watch members with cloth masks and sanitisers; limit the numbers of volunteers and encourage physical distancing; and prevent those who had had contact with Covid-19 cases or were showing symptoms from operating.

Chairwoman of the Brooklyn Ysterplaat Neighbourhood Watch (BYNHW, Cheryl Castle, said she was looking forward to getting back out there but wanted clarity on the logistics of returning to duties under lockdown level 3.

“We need to get a directive from the department as to how many people can patrol at a time.

“Will it be foot patrol or car patrol only? Because the safety of your members and the community around you needs to come first,” said Ms Castle.

Summer Greens Neighbourhood Watch (SGNW) chairman, Reagan Croeser, said although the watch was keen to start patrolling as soon as possible they would not be doing so without proper feedback first.

He said SGNW had many senior members who wanted to know if they would be allowed to patrol since they were at higher risk for developing more serious complications from Covid-19.

“Also level 4 had a curfew. Everyone had to be indoors by 8pm. Will there be a curfew under level 3, and if so, will it apply to watch members as well?”

Chairwoman of the Sanddrift Neighbourhood Watch (SNW), Charnell Lamb, said it was imperative for them to start patrolling again as crime had escalated in the area since lockdown.

She wanted more clarity on group patrols and also wanted to know if senior members, whom she called her “best patrollers”, were allowed to patrol.

Since lockdown, the watch members had been doing “static patrols” from their houses, she said, adding: “But I am excited to get out there again.”