The safety of children and women in the area, as well as the eradication of illegal substances, were the main reasons for the launch of the initiative
RESIDENTS in Homevale have taken a stand against social ills facing the community by launching a “community watch group”.
The group, which has been operating since last Thursday, consists of various members of the community.
The founder of the group, Fernando Visagie, said that they had decided to tackle matters themselves as they were the ones directly affected.
“This is not just a group of people who were bored and decided to launch a hobby. We have 30 people from different backgrounds and professions, including teachers, nurses and other professionals. These are all individuals who are tired of seeing our community deteriorating into a dilapidated state. We realised that we have to take action against the challenges we face each day. We have taken a consensus to root out drugs, underage drinking, public drinking, loitering and other social challenges,” said Visagie yesterday.
“This community belongs to us and we have the responsibility to shape it the way we want. We cannot let unruliness take over while we stand by and watch. This is not a government problem but a societal problem which we need to address together,” said Visagie.
He said the safety of children and women in the area, as well as the eradication of illegal substances, were the main reasons for the launch of the initiative.
“We have seen so many of our young people becoming addicted to drugs. Addiction leads to many other criminal activities as some drug addicts commit crime to feed their addiction. There have been several homes that have been burgled by youngsters who steal to buy drugs. One has to bear in mind that these are our children, they stay amongst us and know the community well. Some of these youngsters know who is at a house at a particular time. We have many community members who are at work during the day and lock their homes or either leave the children at home. These people become crime statistics when someone breaks into their home and steals. The children at home are also at risk of being attacked.
“We cannot just talk and complain about such matters but need to urgently intervene to curb them.”
Visagie said that they particularly wanted to target the youth.
“We need our young people to have a positive view and be passionate about their community. We are engaging with school pupils and educating them about the dangers of criminal activities and drugs. We also want to introduce youth camps and sports activities as a way of engaging young people.”
The spokesperson for the group, Collin Baartman, who is a teacher, said there has been dramatic change in pupils since the inception of the forum.
“Some pupils used to stand at the tuck shops and not go to school. Others first go and smoke dagga before class. The forum now patrols the streets and accompanies the pupils to school. The loitering on corners and at tuck shops has stopped.
“We have also warned tuck shop owners not to sell cigarettes to pupils as we will close them down if they continue. There are also other challenges such as bullying that have been addressed by the forum. The pupils feel much safer now that they know they have people who usher or watch them as they make their way home.”
The group said people must not confuse them with the crime-fighting group Wanya Tsotsi.
“We are a community watch group. We do not infringe on the rights of anyone. We are a group of neighbours who came together to address our challenges. We are taking our streets back and those who are selling illegal substances will be rooted out,” they vowed.