Neighbourhood Safety Team lauded as reason behind calmer Bonteheuwel
By the end of 2018, police statistics showed that 70 people were killed in gang-related incidents in Bonteheuwel and by June this year, already 40 lives had been lost to violence.
However, in July, after a number of interventions, including visible policing by 100 safety officers and re-establishing trust between the community and the authorities, the situation in the area appears to have changed.
Ward councillor Angus McKenzie attributes the change to the launch of the Bonteheuwel Neighbourhood Safety Team (NST) in July.
“Since then, to now as we speak, there has only been one gang-related murder,” said McKenzie.
“Because of the violence and gangsterism in Bonteheuwel, businesses and churches had closed their doors as it was not safe to trade or to walk to prayers. Schooling suffered, too,” said Mckenzie.
“As a result, we had a spiritual and economic meltdown until the mayor, councillor JP Smith and I sat down and looked to see what we could do. That is where the idea of the NST was born,” said McKenzie
On Wednesday, Subcouncil Five, which consists of six wards, including Bonteheuwel, agreed to a plan that will see work start on the upgrading of the Bonteheuwel CBD.
“As of February 2020, we will see an initial budget of R4million being spent on landscaping of the CBD, which will include a play court in the town centre. This project is expected to be completed by May 2020,” said McKenzie.
Zahid Badroodien, Mayco member for community services and health, said that in the new financial year, the city’s social development and early childhood development department had set up a number of programmes to steer residents away from crime.
“The programmes implemented will include: substance abuse programmes, a programme which deals with the health and safety of older persons and one which focuses on persons (living) with disabilities, and the relevant support,” said Badroodien.
“This is a huge win for the people of Bonteheuwel that will see investment return to the community and assist in job creation in the area,” McKenzie said.@MwangiGithahu