The Hangberg neighbourhood watch has acknowledged a “new type of approach” is needed to tackle crime in the area, and to this end, will be reaching out to faith-based organisations to assist.
This was revealed at a public safety meeting at the Hangberg civic centre on Thursday September 27.
Watch spokesperson Pastor Philip Frans said a “core group” comprising community roleplayers had discussed the matter and decided the best way to approach the crime problem was to undertake a “family healing process”.
“If a school has children who are misbehaving, then their families will be approached to ask whether they would like to engage with faith-based leaders, who will work with the children,” he said.
“The faith-based leaders will also work with the teachers themselves to help them cope with any stresses they might have both in the classroom and at home. We are hoping that at the end of the day, we will be able to build a better community.”
Pastor Frans said the core group had seen how the memorial service for fisher Durick van Blerk, allegedly shot by police during an anti-poaching raid in August, had brought the community together. This has triggered the idea for the faith-based healing programme.
JP Smith, the City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security and social services, was also present at the meeting and provided information about youth projects being rolled out by the City that could bolster the efforts to engage young people in the community.
A pilot project involving security guards being placed at Hangberg schools, taking place under the auspices of the Western Cape Education Department’s Safe Schools programme, has recently concluded and would be evaluated for its effectiveness, Pastor Frans said.
Pastor Frans has also begun to work with a Pretoria-based man, Dr Piet Botha, to distribute a small booklet, The Way to Happiness, in the community.
The booklet purports to be a guide to living a better life, and comprises common lessons found in all religions. These include the importance of honouring parents, loving and helping children and safeguarding and protecting one’s environment.
Dr Botha said the book had been rolled out across Colombia, where it had proved successful in bringing down crime levels in that country’s communities.
“If you can take one community and get it right, then you can expand to others. In this way you could make the Western Cape a safe place for all,” he said.
Pastor Frans said about 400 booklets had been distributed in Hangberg to date.