Carrying batons, pepper spray and gas guns, Farzana Shaik, 40, Reshma Singh, 42, and her daughter Tyhisha, 19, all from Phoenix, are on a quest to curb crime in their communities.
Neighbourhood watch groups are usually dominated by men, but these women were motivated to join after falling victim to crime.
After her dad died in 2017, Shaik’s home was robbed eight times. This prompted her to start a street patrol.
“I live in Westham with my two children, a nephew and my two sisters. Crime started to spike in the area in 2017 and we were targeted eight times. The last straw was when a suspect entered our property while my children and nephew were home alone.”
Her daughter, who was 12 at the time, watched the robber ransack the tool shed.
“She was traumatised because she thought he would enter our home. They called the neighbours and the suspect fled. I heard about other areas in Phoenix where residents had formed street groups and I decided to start my own.”
The residents take turns to patrol in groups every day.
“A few batons and reflective jackets were sponsored. The crime reduced within a month because the criminals could see we were taking action.”
She said after returning home from work, she ate, showered, changed and started her shift at 7pm.
“I return late at night or in the early hours of the morning.”
She said the job could be dangerous when they received messages about intruders in the area. “But I have been lucky my safety has not been compromised so far.”
Singh leaves her home at 9pm every night with Tyhisha to patrol their neighbourhood.
“Crime is rife. We cannot expect the police to be in every area or street policing. I was robbed a few times and wanted an avenue to ensure other people would not be faced with the same situation and so I joined our crime watch group.”
The mother of two patrols with her team in the Unit 7 area until the next morning.
“I carry pepper spray for protection,” she said. “Every night is different. Sometimes nothing happens and on some days multiple homes are broken into and we find ourselves chasing the suspects.”
Tyhisha was in Grade 9 when she was robbed of her watch while walking home from school. She said: “I felt violated and questioned how someone could just take what did not belong to them. When I turned 18, I joined my mother doing patrols.”
Tyhisha, who is unemployed, carries a gas gun and pepper spray.
“I have general knowledge on self-defence and have been for training to use the gas gun.”
She said she had attended house break-ins and chased after suspects with their team.
Tyhisha believes it is important for young people to take a stand against crime.
The chairperson of the Phoenix Community Policing Forum, Umesh Singh, said: “These women must be applauded for their efforts in reducing crime. The police cannot do it alone. The community, therefore, has a huge role to play in this fight against crime and these women are standing up and taking back our streets.”