Compiled by Annalise Kempen
Information provided by the Western Cape Department of Community Safety and the City of Cape Town
Photos provided by the City of Cape Town
“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.” - Doug Firebaugh.
The word recognition is defined as “appreciation or acclaim for an achievement, service, or ability” (https://en.oxford-dictionaries.com). And even though we know from personal experience what a difference it makes to those whose achievements are recognised, we still fail to do it often enough.
On 26 March 2018, the Department of Community Safety, Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town co-hosted a Neighbourhood Watch awards ceremony in Cape Town. The Table View Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) walked away with top honours during this first joint Neighbourhood Watch Awards ceremony.
The NHW Awards for the year 2017 was the first of its kind to be held under the new Western Cape Government-City of Cape Town partnership and showcased both the City and Provincial Government's appreciation of these NHW structures and their members as treasured safety partners. The plan is to have an annual award ceremony event in future. This year’s event saw more than 80 NHW structures and members nominated for one of the 34 available awards split into three broad categories to recognise and celebrate teams of distinction (bronze awards), individual excellence (silver awards), as well as outstanding achievement awards (gold awards).
The City of Cape Town metropolitan area currently has more than 130 accredited Neighbourhood Watches, while there are more than 200 accredited NHWs across the Western Cape province. The Department of Community Safety envisages rolling out similar awards to other municipalities across the Western Cape in the near future to acknowledge and celebrate the work done by safety volunteers in service of their communities.
Mr Dan Plato, the Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, emphasised during the event that neighbourhood watches form a crucial part in the united front against crime. “As a province and as a city, we rely on you as ordinary residents in our communities to help keep us safe. Working under the auspices of the Western Cape Community Safety Act, the Western Cape Government continuously look for ways to better support and develop our neighbourhood watches - not only in the City but across the province. To this extent, we are looking to accredit another 100 NHW structures in the year to come and are setting aside more than R2.5 million for training and equipping our NHW structures in the province,” he said. Mr Plato made it clear that “we must become a united front against crime. As a province and as a city, we rely on you, as the ordinary citizens on the streets, to help us to keep our communities safe”. He reminded that there were not enough police members to ensure proper visible policing which was why community members were needed to help government, for their own benefit as well as that of their families. Mr Plato mentioned various areas where crime was extremely high in the City of Cape Town which had both the drug and murder capitals of the country - not an achievement authorities were happy about. He concluded by thanking all the community members and the neighbourhood structures “for a job well done - you don’t get remuneration, but you do it for the love of the work and you have a passion for that”.
Alderman J P Smith, the Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) of Cape Town for Safety, Security and Social Services, thanked NHW members present for their dedicated community service. He alluded to the 20 000 trained NHW members in the City of Cape Town with probably twice as many NHW volunteers who are at the forefront of improving safety in their communities through foot and vehicle patrols, depending on the community’s circumstances. Alderman Smith spoke about the millions that have already been spent on equipment and training for neighbourhood watches, thanks in part to different levels of government being pushed by these community structures to invest in this form of community policing. This he said was “a community-led initiative around community policing. You are at the forefront to improve safety in our communities and often teach both the City and police valuable lessons in community intelligence-led policing about profiling criminals etc. Our partnerships with each other, including the Western Cape Government, keep on growing and we will keep trying to find new ways of supporting our valued NHWs”. Alderman Smith emphasised that their job must be to remove the obstacles for the NHWs to continue to grow in service of their communities and for the authorities to support these structures through that. “We’ve seen a community-led initiative which government has struggled to catch up with. We’ve just been running after you catching up to whatever these neighbourhood watches push for and the precedents you set and that is as it should be,” he said. He also spoke about various action plans for the coming financial year which will not only assist the neighbourhood structures with their work but also assist law enforcement on city and provincial level. This includes the development of software, appointment of neighbourhood watch members as auxiliary staff in the City structures etc.
Recognition for top performers
The Table View NHW walked away with top honours at this event, ahead of Summer Greens NHW and Tygerdal and Glenwood NHWs. These teams best represent exemplary commitment and values consistent with the broader NHW movement, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the Western Cape Provincial Government and the City of Cape Town.