As criminal activity continues to impact communities, local community police forums (CPF) and neighbourhood watches are requesting funds, remuneration and escorts for additional security when conducting tasks. But, minister of community safety, Dan Plato says that the phrase, ‘we want money for what we are doing’ has surfaced in every related meeting. Plato says that the work of CPF’s and neighbourhood watches is meant to be voluntary work.
“We want to guard our people against the notion that, for each and everything we do, the government needs to pay us for it. That is a sensitive issue to which I do not have the answers,” he affirmed.
Meanwhile, deputy chairperson for the Elsies River CPF, Imraan Mukadam, says that the attacks on security volunteer workers is a worrying trend.
He says that the primary concern of volunteer workers wanting funding is for security. This comes after one of the CPF members’ husband was shot in Elsies River last week.
“It’s a very worrying trend, especially in the case of what happened with the CPF member in Elsies River. She was very vocal regarding crime in the area and she was threatened about two weeks before the incident on becoming a victim. Thursday her husband was shot and, unfortunately, died in hospital,” he says.
Mukadam addresses the concern regarding community members who are tackling the issue of crime and other social issues within communities.
“We are exposing ourselves and it is very worrying that there is no real solution to this problem. We are busy forming neighbourhood watches, but we are facing an issue where there is absolutely no protection in terms of becoming victims or being targeted. At the same time, we don’t want to cause a panic that would deter people from wanting to do volunteer security work,” he noted.
He also says that communities need to stand as a collective to express their disgust with what is happening and that the perpetrators are part of the very communities they target.
He calls out to the community, stating that if individuals continue to endanger themselves, they will always be the target of criminals.
Mukadam comments on the challenges faced by neighbourhood watches and CPFs:
“It is difficult when people go out and volunteer as neighbourhood watches. It means that they have reached a point where they feel that they need to go out and do something about the level of crime in their communities,” he says.
Moreover, he argues that if a police member gets injured on duty, he has a safety net to fall back on such as medical aid and insurance, but if members of the community get injured or are at risk, there’s no recourse for them, since they carry their own costs.
On Wednesday Plato will engage with community leaders in Elsies River to address the challenges that they are currently facing.
He vows to knock on some doors and visit some specific houses in the area, talking to parents and addressing the issue of the control, which parents have over their children.
“In all the attacks against law-abiding people, neighbourhood watches and CPF’s, the message is, it is children doing this, youngsters and teenagers, ranging from 14 to 22-years-old. It is so difficult to understand, why parents cannot control their children,” he added.
Plato also encourages the CPF’s to stand firm and that he is availing himself to assist.