A filthy Hangberg toilet block is finally being transformed into a satellite neighbourhood watch centre.
Hangberg Neighbourhood Watch member Pastor Philip Frans has petitioned for years for the block to be used for safety and security purposes (“Rundown loo earmarked for safety hub,” Sentinel, July 28, 2017).
The City of Cape Town, the Hangberg Peace and Mediation Forum (PMF) and the community, have all been part of the discussions.
About a month ago, Pastor Frans learnt of moves to transform the block into a satellite centre doubling as a gathering point for emergency and policing services.
“I was thrilled to see that the block is being cleaned up in preparation for the centre. I am very excited that the room will soon be operational. It will make a huge difference to crime-fighting efforts in Hangberg,” he said.
Recruiting new members to the neighbourhood watch had been a challenge recently, but he hoped a full-time operations centre would assist in attracting new patrollers to the team, he said.
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said the neighbourhood watch had told him when he came into office in 2016 about the need for a dedicated patrol room for volunteers.
“This satellite community safety patrollers’ space would serve as a place in which to keep bibs and radios, provided by the City’s safety directorate, as well as be a place where patrollers could have a cup of coffee and use ablutions while on patrol,” Mr Quintas said.
“I was able to facilitate dialogue between the TDA (Transport and Urban Development Authority) and the safety and social services directorate and enable the transfer of the ablution block from TDA.”
The centre would be renovated and Mr Quintas would work with the City’s safety and security directorate, the Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch Organisation – under which the Hangberg watch falls – and private donors to equip it to improve safety for all and support voluntary patrollers.
PMF secretary Warren Abrahams said youth killings in 2016 and 2017 had led to a #CrimeMustFall #DrugsMustFall #GangsterismMustFall march on Saturday April 22 last year.
A memorandum was read and handed over to the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee for safety and security, JP Smith.
“Among community safety issues discussed was the repair, maintenance and usage of the kiosk (ablution block) outside the Hangberg Sports and Recreation Centre as a neighbourhood watch central point for all emergency and law services,” he said. “This project was initiated by the Hangberg Neighbourhood Watch a few years back, but was making slow progress and not getting straight answers added to the community’s anger and fuelled the march. We were fed up with not getting quicker results from government. (But) thanks to the assistance of Councillor Quintas, who strongly supported this initiative at higher levels, the kiosk is currently undergoing repairs and maintenance and can soon be used to make the Hangberg community safer.”
He said the PMF was “overjoyed” that it could be part of this initiative.
“The use of the kiosk still needs to be discussed and finalised, but we are positive that Pastor Frans and the neighbourhood watch patrollers will make great use of it.” He urged the community to look after the facility and report any incidents that may jeopardise its use.