‘Eyes and ears’ need more funding

The control room is manned 24/7.

Bergvliet Kreupelbosch Meadowridge (BKM) Neighbourhood Watch is asking for residents to pay voluntary monthly donations to help it with its fight against crime.

At its annual general meeting on Thursday May 11, JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services, told about 200 people that he had limited funds for neighbourhood watches.

“We have a focus on areas which have a high rate of gang and drug-related violence,” he said.

Mr Smith said when he took over the safety and security portfolio, he did not like neighbourhood watches.

“But now I can see how they create community activism because they encourage residents to take ownership of their areas and take responsibility for its safety”.

The watches also brought residents out from behind their high walls where they could get to know their neighbours.

“Knowing your neighbours makes the area one step closer to being safer because you can look out for one another,” said Mr Smith.

BKM is a non-profit organisation that is in the process of applying for a public benefit organisation certificate. It shares 24-hour surveillance of licence plate recognition cameras located at key spots in the area.

This database is shared with other organisations and watches in the greater Cape Town area. But this comes at a cost.

BKM chairman Brian Wilkinson said they needed more cameras at locations not currently covered and volunteer patrollers needed help with rising fuel costs, among other things.

The watch – which already charges members a R150 annual fee – is now asking residents to make monthly donations by debit order so it can improve its cash flow and plan more effectively for the future.

BKM vice-chairman John Jackson said they would always act as the eyes and ears of the police.

It’s not clear exactly what resources Diep River police station has at its disposal – the police don’t give out that information – but the station’s spokesman

Sergeant Amanda Gordon, said they weren’t short of staff and met “minimum deployment requirements” daily, although they could “never have enough hands when trying to curb crime”.

Both Sergeant Gordon and station commander Lieutenant Colonel June Cilliers said Diep River police had had a strong working relationship with BKM for many years.

Mr Smith said neighbourhood watches were an “invaluable tool” against crime because of their “increased patrol activities, their detailed local knowledge, and the networks they build with various policing agencies, private security and community organisations”.

Contact the watch at 021 795 0330 or office@bkmwatch.co.za, or visit www.bkmwatch.org.za for more information.

SIDEBAR

BKM was born after two armed men attacked two teenage boys and a domestic worker in a Meadowridge home in February 2005.

Tony Schreiber and his wife were in Johannesburg on business when they received the telephone call every parent dreads.

Mr Schreiber has since used the knowledge he gained during the experience to make sure other families do ot suffer in the same way.

He and fellow resident Brian Daniels formed a neighbourhood watch covering the suburbs of Bergvliet, Kreupelbosch and Meadowridge.

Originally known as the BKM Crime Stop Watch, its aim is for the community, police and security companies to work together, not only to stop crime but to report all incidents happening in the area, while getting residents involved in taking charge of their own safety.