'Our children no longer care when they see a body': residents launch patrols

07 July 2020 - 12:03 By Joseph Chirume
People gathered in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, to launch a community-based anti-crime initiative.
People gathered in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, to launch a community-based anti-crime initiative.
Image: Joseph Chirume/GroundUp

About 100 people gathered at the corner of Limba Road and Dubula Street in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, on Sunday to volunteer to become street patrollers.

They said the New Brighton Anti-Crime Community Movement will not be a vigilante group. They pledged to work with the police and the justice department to ensure criminals are sent to prison.

“We decided to pull together our resources and help our street patrollers,” said a spokesperson for the group, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.

“Every resident of this township who is a peace-loving person is welcome. People donated a minimum of R5 per person. The level of crime in this area is alarming, and residents have come to a point where they simply accept living with it. We want to change that mentality and claim back our streets,” said one of the movement's leaders, who also wanted to remain anonymous.

The spokesperson said: “Our children no longer care when they see a dead body. They don’t even talk about it because this has become part of their lives. We want to change that mentality and allow our communities to live normal lives.”

She said they will form committees in all areas of New Brighton before they make one group and choose their leaders. She said there were street committees before, but these were no longer active.

One resident said, “We will be working together as residents to identify and apprehend criminals. We will stop criminals in their tracks. We want to stop any criminal activity here.

“We will work together with the police and surrender suspects to them. We will do our best to collect enough evidence so perpetrators of crime are convicted.

"It is also our objective to lobby the justice department to deny bail to rape and murder suspects . Most suspects are released because of a lack of evidence. We will do our best to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

Police spokesperson Capt Andre Beetge urged communities to work with police to identify and apprehend criminals.

“We have community policing forums and we urge residents to work with them. We also discourage community organisations from taking the law into their hands by practising mob justice,” said Beetge.

Reporter threatened

While the anti-crime meeting was under way, a brazen criminal shoved a gun into this reporter’s waist and demanded my camera. I moved away from him as if nothing was happening, but he followed me, pointing to the barrel of his pistol.

The man then retreated to a house nearby. I quickly took off my jacket and put it in my bag with my camera.

The man then came out of the house accompanied by two others. They failed to recognise me as I had taken off the jacket. 

I informed one of the organisers, who escorted me out of the area.

 


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