Neighbourhood watches makes communities safer. CREDIT: Ayanda Ndamane
In the past two months, crime in my neighbourhood has dropped to zero.

And it’s all the result of a new and very passionate neighbourhood watch.

Men, women and teenagers patrolling our suburb day and night, seven days a week, with the support of the local SAPS.

They started a WhatsApp group and encouraged everyone to join, so that we are always informed about what’s happening around us.

It has created a renewed sense of safety, neighbourliness and community that’s been missing.

Residents donated all the resources for a boerie roll fundraiser last week and by all accounts, it went well and more are now planned.

We held a meeting over the weekend to discuss everything to do with sustaining the initiative and getting more residents involved in the patrols.

Those on patrol also stand at the local bus stop and train station, giving people coming and going a sense of safety, especially those travelling at dangerous times.

It’s brilliant, and it gives the community a powerful sense of ownership.

It’s all about visibility, which is an obvious deterrent.

But two things stand out for me; the fact that we are all getting to know each other and how something this small can make such a massive impact.

Which brings me to the torching of Metrorail trains last week.

I call them Metrorail trains, but really they belong to us, because our taxes and train fares pay for them.

In fact, anything that “belongs” to the council or government is ours collectively.

Government is merely the custodian of these things.

So I was wondering why we allow our stuff to be destroyed,  and probably by people we know.

We aren’t causing any inconvenience to those in government by destroying trains, buses, traffic lights, council buildings, etc.

Most of them have cars, which means their lives won’t be affected.

They’re still able to get around. It is our people who rely on those services who bear the brunt of the senseless vandalism and sabotage.

I’ve never understood why we protest our dissatisfaction with government services by destroying the few government services we do have.

It has become our duty to be vigilant and report criminal activity we know about.

When we look the other way, we are slowly chipping away at our ability to live safely and decently.

Of course we have a fair expectation that the police are supposed to protect us.

It is after all part of why we pay taxes.

And our reality is that there aren’t enough officers and even if there were, they wouldn’t be able to be everywhere all of the time.

Meanwhile, we are being held hostage by criminals who are becoming more and more brutal. And if we stand together and support the police by being their eyes and ears, then at least we stand a chance.

Once everyone in my hood has joined the watch, each of us would sacrifice two hours a fortnight to go on patrol with others.

This is a small price to pay to sleep at night, instead of hoping the cops will arrive on time.

Now just imagine what we could achieve if all Cape Town’s communities banded together like this?

Good luck to all of you having to deal with the inconvenience and frustration of trains that are even more delayed now.