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Our community crime fighters, who volunteer their time to patrol the streets in their respective Neighbourhood Watch Structures, play an integral role in building safer communities. They are the unsung heroes, spending hours away from their own families, and often incurring the wrath of criminals, to keep residents safe.

The City and Province recently held its inaugural Neighbourhood Watch Awards, to honour the dedicated men and women, from 80 Neighbourhood Watch structures across the Metro, who often use their own resources, towards ensuring that criminals do not get comfortable in their neighbourhoods.

The Table View Neighbourhood Watch walked away with the top honours as the “NHW of the Year”.

The Mayoral Committee member for Safety and Security JP Smith says the City will continue to find new ways to support NHWs.

“What we are seeing is a community led initiative around community policing. With as much as 20 000 trained NHW members in the City and probably closer to 50 000 NHW volunteers in some form or another active in our communities, you are at the forefront to improve safety in our communities and often teach both the City and police valuable lessons in community intelligence led policing.”

Smith also took the time to highlight the amazing work of the Westgate Neighbourhood Watch in Mitchell’s Plain. Smith says not only have they managed to significantly reduce crime over the last year, they have also raised over R50 000 for the installation of CCTV cameras by driving an initiative to manufacture and sell recycled drums and containers for rainwater harvesting.

Talk about killing three birds with one stone! They are recycling, helping residents save water, and raising funds to increase safety in the community.

One of the watch members, who is also an auxiliary City law enforcement officer, Ridwaan Nero, won the 2018 Patroller of the Year award at the NHW Awards. Nero’s reputation of keeping Westgate safe is spreading to as far as Somerset West, with calls from that community and other areas for assistance.

Nero says because crime has gone down in the area due to the commitment of the Watch members, which affords him more time to help in other areas.

As operational coordinator, Nero is a firm believer in the “Broken Window” principle, and it is something he carries with him when he assists other Watch structures. The Westgate NHW has actively tried to keep the environment clean, including removing graffiti to make it less attractive to criminals.

Nero says if there is one thing he cannot tolerate, its lawlessness. On a busy day, he will make several arrests for drug related offences, and recovering hijacked vehicles.

“Fighting crime is a real passion for me; it’s something I need to do every day.”

However, he admits his real motivation is to help his neighbours.

“What keeps me going is that smile on an elderly lady’s face after I’ve assisted her, and to see how community members get involved to take care of the area.”

His final message to everyone who wants to make a difference in his or her neighbourhood is to become an active citizen and to get to know one another.

“We often think, where is the South African Police Service, where is law enforcement, where is the Metro police? But we must start doing things for ourselves…it’s the only way to beat crime.

Liesl (1)

Liesl Smit – Senior Reporter and Anchor, Smile90.4 FM News