Crime has taken a dive in the harbour precinct since patrollers from the Hangberg Neighbourhood Watch deployed there in December.
The 20, mostly single mothers, work shifts, with at least two patrollers on duty at a time between Drumbeat Charters and Lookout Deck at the waterfront.
They were brought in by charter firms in the harbour after several tourists fell prey to muggers and bag snatchers near the boat launch.
“Since we started in December, we have had no incidents,” said Pastor Philip Frans, who co-ordinates the patrollers on behalf of the neighbourhood watch.
“The patrollers are paid a small stipend by the business owners, which really means a lot to them, as they struggle as single parents. Ultimately our aim is to patrol the whole harbour, as we are aware that crime is still going on in other parts.”
Hout Bay harbour has been plagued by opportunistic crime and children who bunk school to beg from tourists.
“Businesses benefit from tourism in Hout Bay.
“If more businesses can contribute by providing a small stipend, we can put more patrollers on the ground.
“The harbour will become safer, more people will come to Hout Bay and spend money here,” Pastor Frans said.
The patrollers are also trying to help the children loitering in the harbour and encouraging them to return to school.
“We can’t do this alone, however. Perhaps if the Department of Social Development, for example, could assist us, we would have greater success with these kids,” said Pastor Frans.
One of the longest-standing members of the neighbourhood watch, Juue Fynn, said she was proud to be part of the patrols.
“It’s nice to be able to keep people safe,” she said. “There’s a lot of crime in the harbour, and if we can help then it’s good for Hout Bay.”
Fellow patroller Karen Johnson said things had changed quickly in the harbour after they started.
“Within two weeks, we saw fewer kids hanging around the harbour, and the criminals stay away when they see us coming.
“We focus a lot on ensuring people’s bags are not stolen, which has been a big problem here. Hopefully we can soon see patrollers being used right across the harbour,” she said.
Pastor Frans said the patrollers wanted to improve their record-keeping so the data they collected could aid crime-fighting agencies.
“What we don’t have is a proper base from which to operate.
“I would like to re-iterate my call for the unoccupied toilet block at the Hangberg taxi rank to be used for this purpose (“Rundown loo earmarked for safety hub,” Sentinel, July 28, 2017).
“If that building was cleaned up, the patrollers could work from there.
It would also ensure a better security presence in Hangberg.”
To find out more about the initiative, contact Pastor Frans at 079 067 1345.