Residents of Bonteheuwel held a meeting on Saturday with several key stakeholders in the community safety sector, in a bid to address some of their more pressing concerns. The meeting was held at Freedom Square, and had a focus on crime, gansterism and drugs.
In attendance were representatives from the South African Police Services (SAPS) and local Metro Police, as well as the department of correctional services. Key issues raised were the lack of police visibility in gang and crime hotspots, questions over parole conditions of criminals, and the inaccessibility of satellite police stations.
The meeting was led by the Bonteheuwel Joint Peace Forum, with much of their issues pertaining to the rampant cases of crime in the area. Spokesperson Judy Kennedy suggested that much of this was spilling over from neighbouring Langa, hence the forum had resolved to engage with Langa’s own CPF to address the matter.
“It is not only on the Langa side that this happens, but also on the Bonteheuwel side. What a community living close to Jakes Gerwel Drive has done is come together and started patrolling in the mornings (and evenings),” she said, suggesting that locals were now taking it in their own hands to secure the safety of all residents.
The attendance of Correctional Services officials may have been somewhat surprising to many, but Kennedy said the forum were eager to know how convicted criminals were being kept away from the very activities that landed them in jail in the first case.
“One of the issues that were raised was how do we know when someone has broken their parole conditions. Another issue was how people get reintegrated into the community once they are released… (we questioned) what are the things correctional services offer to help (address) their habits,” she explained.
Residents of Bonteheuwel have also expressed concern that satellite police stations set up in the area to make lodging cases easier, remains inadequate. Kennedy said the station still lacked the required facilities, meaning residents were often forced to travel to Bishop Lavis to acquire a case number.
Whilst their complaints were plentiful, she said the community was largely happy with the responses they received, with all of the relevant role-players promising to address the communities concerns as best they could.
Kennedy was hopeful that with the right cooperation, the pride and dignity of Bonteheuwel residents could easily be restored. VOC.