Patrollers’ race against crime in Oakdale

Oakdale Watch members, from left, Tommy van Zyl, CJ Scholtz and Petri Strydom.

LIZAHN WENTZEL

Oakdale Watch (OW) says it has noticed an increase in the number of people passing through the small suburb next to the Bellville CBD, and it believes this has contributed to rising crime.

A possible solution to this, may be the adjusting of police patrol times in lower Oakdale, Boston and the Bellville CBD, according to the watch.

Bellville police officer Captain Alwyn Jenkins addressed residents at Oakdale Watch’s public meeting on Wednesday September 14. He said there were now two patrol groups, which rotated shifts from 9am to 5pm and 7pm to 5am.

“The area is unique given its size, but there is a high number of foot and car traffic passing through the area. Criminals will take the chance to commit a crime,” he said.

Captain Jenkins also mentioned that Bellville police station commander Brigadier André van Dyk had asked cluster commander Major-General Mpumelelo Manci and Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula for help from the provincial police’s stabilisation unit.

He said a unit was stationed in Kraaifontein but they would only need it once a week to help with patrols. Kraaifontein is in seventh place on the list of the country’s top-10 crime hot spots.

According to the crime statistics for the period of March 2015 to April 2016, there were 1 434 contact crimes for Bellville, including 400 common robberies and 376 common assaults. There were 3 070 property-related crimes, including 1 487 cases of theft out of or from motor vehicles.

“Although there has been an overall decrease in crime in Bellville, we want to focus on contact crimes and to bring this number down. We have a meeting every morning with Brigadier Van Dyk on crime trends and patterns, while reflecting on previous statistics from the same time period,” said Captain Jenkins.

OW spokesman Tommy Milakovic believes the changing of shifts, the extra patrols as well as higher visibility, will have a positive impact on the area.

“One of the main factors causing crime in Bellville is that it has become a metropole of sorts, what with the daily influx and commute, especially from the labour force. Bellville has become a hub. This means that over the years the number of people moving up from the CBD through the lower Oakdale and Boston residential areas has increased. These residential areas were never designed to handle such an increase in foot traffic as well as vehicles, taxis and buses,” he said.

OW chairman Petri Strydom encouraged residents to use the Eyes and Ears WhatsApp group to report suspicious activity.

Mr Milakovic said crime tended to increase as the end of the year drew near, but that increase appeared to be coming earlier this year and more patrollers were needed to curb it.

OW put its members to the test on Friday September 16, with an Amazing Race-inspired patrol, led by vice chairman CJ Scholtz.

The patrollers were divided into teams of two, given a set of clues and off they went on the patrol to test their knowledge of the area.

During the exercise, Mr Milakovic pointed out key areas from Teddington Street through Dirkie Uys, as well as businesses in Karoo Street where homeless people would often sleep.

Mr Van Zyl said OW was more than just a group that patrols against crime.

“We are often faced with situations that have nothing to do with crime. What keeps our team together is the ‘brotherhood’ and fellowship that we have established over the years,” he said.

Mr Milakovic said crime in the area was mostly opportunistic and called on residents to be vigilant.

“People make themselves a target, if they move through busy areas playing on their phones with their earphones on. People need to educate themselves and take precautionary measures so as not to just become another statistic,” he said.