Criminals could exploit the absence of neighbourhood watches, says City’s JP Smith. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
Criminals could exploit the absence of neighbourhood watches, says City’s JP Smith. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Covid-19: Safety concerns as CPFs, NHWs are also banned during lockdown

By Sukaina Ishmail Time of article published Mar 27, 2020

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Cape Town - The absence of neighbourhood watches (NHW) and community police forums (CPF) during the lockdown could increase crime after members were told to fully comply with the lockdown regulations, like all other citizens.

The Department of Community Safety sent an SMS to all NHW and CPF members stating that all volunteers were not exempt from regulations.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said the City did not support the decision made by the government and police.

“The NHWs are a critical part of the safety and security team in this City. They are more numerous than all the SAPS, Traffic, metro police and law enforcement together. I believe the City and province will continue to request their exemption because they could be accommodated within the current categories of exemption published in the regulations,” he said.

Smith said according to crime statistics, it was likely that criminals would exploit the absence of NHWs.

Mitchells Plain NHW chairperson Daniel Davids said they were hoping to part of ensuring safety during the lockdown. He said it was also likely that there would be an impact on crime and the NHWs could assist the officers in smaller areas.

“Criminals would take this opportunity for criminal activities at places of worship, malls and transport routes. Criminals will also focus on who will be on the road during lockdown, as they are most likely to be on their feet,” said Davids.

“Many members will now be forced to stay at home, but we will still be in contact with each other through communication,” he said.

Nyanga CPF chairperson Martin Makasi said they were hoping to play a role because NHWs and CPFs provided a multiplied force.

Masimanyane NHW chairperson Khaya Mbaswana said: “It is worrying that we won’t be able to patrol, but it is understandable because it is a national call. I suspect that crime will increase, especially since people will be indoors, causing them to drink and be violent as a result.”

Grassy park CPF spokesperson Philip Bam said they encouraged all citizens to adhere to the rules of the lockdown.

“Do not venture out of your home unless absolutely necessary. We are fully aware that criminals will take advantage of this situation and we advise that residents take special precautions to safeguard their property. Don’t allow strangers on to your property. We call on our law enforcement services and SAPS to maintain high visibility at this time,” he said.


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Cape Argus

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