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Residents come up with a bright idea

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Several Roodepan residents in Tritonia Street came together to set up their own ’street lights’.

Roodepan residents have come together and put up small spotlights to light up the dark streets in their area. Picture: Supplied

BY NOW, South Africans are accustomed to load shedding. It is part of us like a braai on a Saturday.

The lights out period ranges from two to six-and-a-half hours, and lately, it is a daily occurrence. When the load shedding kicks in, several areas are without power. Our homes are dark, our suburbs are dark and our streets are dark, leaving the area we live in a potential hive of criminal activity.

However, as if that were not bad enough, a different kind of load shedding is being implemented in our city. This load shedding is not courtesy of Eskom but thanks to our own municipality. And here’s the kicker; the blackouts are not because there is a need to reduce the load, no, these blackouts occur because there is a general lack of service delivery.

Several areas in Kimberley are without lights every night of the week, leaving the streets dark and dangerous. Community complaints fall on deaf ears as the municipality fails to attend to calls for street lights to be repaired. But what do you do when you don’t get any assistance from your municipality?

Well, you could band together and make a plan, hoping more people will join and make a difference.

Several Roodepan residents in Tritonia Street came together and each bought 10 and 20w LED lights for their homes. The lights were then strategically placed to shine both into their yards and onto the street, leaving the street illuminated enough so that residents and pedestrians are not completely in the dark.

When the DFA spoke to the chairperson of the Roodepan Community Neighbourhood Watch, Johan Loff, it became clear that something needed to be done, because apparently waiting for the Sol Plaatje Municipality to come to the party is a hopeless case.

The cost of one of those floodlights. Picture: Supplied

“We are hoping that more and more community members will see what the idea is behind the spotlights,” Loff said. “The more lights we can have in a street, the less we need to be reliant on Sol Plaatje Municipality for light,” he continued. “That is why we are asking residents of Roodepan who are able to put up a spotlight to come on board and slowly start lighting up our streets one house at a time.”

How one of those floodlights is positioned. Picture: Danie van der Lith

According to Loff, the need for light in the streets is rather urgent. “The criminals target the dark areas, breaking into homes and robbing people at night. Crime is rampant in Roodepan, and we need to stand together to stop this from happening.”

He said that they have 83 households that are part of the Roodepan Community Neighbourhood Watch, but they currently only have 38 men who are diligently patrolling the areas.

“We are pleading with community members to join up and be part of a solution. We know it is cold out there and working in the dead of night is not easy, but we need more men to start patrolling with us again so that we can reduce the crime rate,” Loff said.

He mentioned that the neighbourhood watch has several shifts when they patrol. “We patrol from 8 to 11pm then 11pm to 2am, and then we also have random nights where we patrol until 5am.

“We all carry a whistle with us while patrolling, we find it very useful to find out where assistance is needed. We want to try and get a whistle for every household, so when anybody needs assistance, everybody will be alerted,” he said.

Loff displayed some of the weapons that they confiscated during their patrols. Some of the weapons look as if they could feature in a Thor movie. “They use these weapons to rob people, striking fear into their victims,” he told the DFA.

Some of the weapons the neighbourhood watch confiscated during their searches. Picture: Danie van der Lith
Some of the weapons the neighbourhood watch confiscated during their searches. Picture: Supplied

“Since we have been patrolling our area, crime has drastically dropped, and we will continue to do so because we do not see any SAPS vehicles in our area,” he said.

“As chairperson, I would like to thank every man that is patrolling with us at night, and also to the women who send their men out to assist us in keeping our area safe. We are also asking any person, company, or organisation who would like to assist with donations in any shape or form to get in touch with us on 071 127 1798.”

According to Sol Plaatje Municipality, the street light situation will not be resolved any time soon. Municipal spokesperson Thoko Riet told the DFA that there is a backlog of fixing street lights throughout the city.

“We understand that some areas are crime hotspots, especially now that it is winter and it gets dark sooner. We also have a challenge of vandalism,” Riet said. “The street light poles are vandalised daily. They break open the covers and steal the wires from the poles. We have two electrical trucks fixing street lights but they are unable to fix them now due to their broken booms. “Our municipal workshop is aware of the situation and has since ordered parts to fix the trucks.”

“We have other trucks available, but those are mainly used to restore household electricity. There is a list where street lights are required, and once the trucks are repaired we will fix the lights, prioritising the hotspot areas,” Riet added.

Riet also advised residents to be vigilant when walking in dark areas.

Seen are some of the neighbourhood watch members (from left): Cameron Newman, Nadeem Francke, Attiene Frank and chairperson Johan Loff. Picture: Danie van der Lith
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