One year after a non-profit crime-fighting organisation started patrolling Hout Bay, crime in the suburb has dropped, according to the police, who have hailed the group as an asset to the community.
Community Crime Prevention (CCP) believe that with enough funding and support from the community they can halve crime in the valley by March next year.
CCP operations manager JJ De Villiers and his team are on patrol 24/7 and have responded to more than 250 emergencies in the past six months, including more than 70 cases of attempted robberies and burglaries.
CCP executive director Keri Cross said 12 house robbery suspects had been handed over to the police in the past three months alone.
Ironically, she said, about 70 percent of the calls CCP had responded to were from non-donors, as only 0.02 percent of households in Hout Bay contribute to the CCP. The NPO is determined to make Hout Bay a crime and violence free zone where all residents can live without fear.
“Our long term goal is to have the lowest crime statistics in the Western Cape,” Ms Cross said.
The CCP plans to deploy trained foot patrols, and other visible crime prevention units, to monitor, react and respond to crime, while giving feedback to the operations manager for a coordinated response.
It also wants to create jobs in the area, train people to support its efforts and support victims of crime and violence. But to do this, it needs financial support from the community.
“There are approximately 5 700 households, excluding Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg, in Hout Bay, and if each household can contribute R100 a month, we can make Hout Bay virtually crime free. We need to be sustainable. We know what our costs are, and we need to be assured of a stable income every month so we are able to pay our staff,” she said.
Also helping to fight crime in the valley are more than 70 community stewards who have replaced the usual car guards in Hout Bay. The CCP started the stewards initiative in November last year. Each steward was cleared by the police and can be identified by a black CCP jacket displaying his name and surname as well as a CCP hat.
According to police statistics from January to Jun 2016, quoted by Ms Cross, muggings in the Hout Bay CBD had dropped by 82 percent, compared to the same period the previous year. Ms Cross said this was clear evidence of the positive impact of the CCP.
Drew Kirkland, who is in charge of the CCP’s marketing, said the community stewards had made a huge difference in the community.
“They now receive respect from the public and feel proud of the fact that they can contribute to a safer Hout Bay,” he said.
Before the initiative, said Ms Cross, car guards had fought each other for turf, but now that was all in the past. But again, she stressed, community funding was needed keep the stewards going.
“Their hats and vests need to be replaced every six months, and, in cases where the vests are damaged, they need to be replaced.
“It is freezing cold in winter, and we would like to give them jackets to wear during the cold winter months, but this costs money. They need to look and feel respectable,” he said.
Hout Bay police station commander, Lieutenant Colonel Bongani Mtakati, confirmed there had been a drop in crime in Hout Bay, and he said the CCP worked well with the police and were an asset to the community.
“There is good communication between the CCP and the SAPS, and there is a strategy meeting every Monday to ensure ongoing communication,” he said.
The community stewards had curbed crime, he said, but a way needed to be found to monitor them, ideally using law enforcement, because many unregistered car guards posed as stewards.
Hout Bay resident and CCP contributor Bianca Said, said that while out walking her dogs a while ago, JJ De Villiers had approached her – on his yellow scooter – and told her there was a report of an intruder in the neighbour’s property and he suspected the intruders had entered her garden.
“I handed him my keys, and he sped off and went to check out the property and deemed it safe. I have to add this was before we were making a monthly contribution. Where else would you get help like this?” she said.
Resident, Mark McCarthy said the CCP are the X-Men in sheeps’ clothing.
“JJ (De Villiers) and his upbeat team are always out there, come rain or shine, to keep this community safe while we’re at work or sleeping,” he said.
Another CCP supporter, Dorothy Blackman, urged the community to support the CCP.
“It amazes me that there is not more support for the CCP from the community. After all, we want to feel safe and secure in our properties, and that is exactly what the CCP does,” she said.
She said when she had been moving house, she asked JJ De Villiers to take a look at her new property and make security recommendations.
“He did just that. He took time out of his personal time to come and advise me.
“I was willing to pay him for his time, and he wouldn’t hear of it. I took his advice, and I am very happy,” she said.
For more information about the CCP or to sign up as a contributor, visit its website at www.ccphoutbay.co.za or call 021 790 7901.