PRESS RELEASE BY ALBERT FRITZ
WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF COMMUNITY SAFETY
Date: 6 May 2020
Minister Fritz calls on Minister Cele to respond to Neighbourhood Watches’ request to assist with social distancing
The Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, has again requested that the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, respond to Neighbourhood Watches’ (NHW) request to assist in social distance management during the level four lockdown.
On 23 April, Minister Fritz wrote to Minister Cele requesting that accredited NHW members be permitted to assist in social distance management and the enforcement of these restrictions. To date, Minister Cele has failed to respond to this request.
Accredited NHWs can assist by promoting social distancing at supermarket (and other shop) queues, clinics, and at transport interchanges. Additionally, NHWs can be used to patrol school grounds to prevent vandalism.
Minister Fritz said, “The presence of NHWs, particularly in communities with low police visibility, will serve to prevent crime. During the lockdown, we have seen an increase in vandalism of schools and shop robberies, particularly in our most vulnerable communities. I have heard the call of the many NHWs and CPFs who have raised their hands and offered their support during this difficult period. It is unacceptable that Minister Cele has failed to respond to this request.”
Minister Fritz added, "As the Department of Community Safety, we will continue to work with the City of Cape Town and other Municipalities to appoint accredited NHW members as Disaster Risk Management volunteers."
The use of NHWs in the enforcement of the lockdown was previously discredited by Minister Cele who said that they are informal structures with no line of accountability. This is not true of NHWs in the Western Cape. Since 2016, NHWs in the Western Cape have been able to obtain accreditation in terms of the Western Cape Community Safety Act (WCCSA).
The Western Cape is the only province in South Africa which regulates its NHWs. To date, there are 322 accredited NHW structures in the province that have been screened, and receive training and resources in line with the WCCSA.
Minister Fritz said, “Our NHWs are regulated by Section 6 of the WCCSA which deals with the Accreditation and Support of Neighbourhood Watches. Section 6 requires that all current and future members of a NHW undergo a screening process to ascertain whether they have any previous convictions before they can be considered for accreditation. Our NHWs are credible and trustworthy partners. Furthermore, in terms of the WCCSA, all accredited NHW Structures and their members are directly accountable to me in my capacity as the Minister of Community Safety.”
If permitted to patrol and assist the lockdown, the Department of Community Safety will ensure that measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure that all members are protected whilst supporting the enforcement of the lockdown, including:
For further clarity on the conditions of lockdown, please see the following FAQs: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/department-of-health/frequently-asked-questions
Attention broadcasters, English audio clip available here: https://clyp.it/kgdgfzwu