Neighbourhood and farm watches especially critical now – AfriForum

Organisation says govt simply does not have capacity to combat crime on its own

Lockdown: Crime increases; neighbourhood and farm watches especially critical now

22 May 2020 

The civil rights organisation AfriForum is of the opinion that neighbourhood and farm watches must now more than ever be allowed to help safeguard communities. 

This follows after the announcement by Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, that offences such as hijackings and violence increased. 

Ian Cameron, AfriForum’s Head of Community Safety, says violent crime is especially starting to increase as movement across the country is taking place more freely. “A lot of the offences that have started to increase again over the past two weeks as opposed to the beginning of the lockdown – such as hijackings, housebreakings, trespassing, theft and robbery – can be combated by means of community safety initiatives like neighbourhood watches.”  

“In rural areas, crop theft is starting to escalate – something that can be halted by farm watches,” adds Cameron.

Cele furthermore indicated that compared to the crime statistics of 2019, there was a complete decrease in crime – a statement that AfriForum regards as an unfair comparison. 

“It is logical that when there is less movement, crime, and also the reporting thereof, will decrease to some degree. It is however not an accurate reflection of the current situation and doesn’t mean that crime isn’t still a serious, continuous and increasing threat.

“The government simply does not have the capacity to combat crime on its own and community structures are important in the fight against violence and crime in South Africa. Where the police is now mainly playing a reactive role, neighbourhood and farm watches play a huge proactive role,” says Cameron.

AfriForum also takes note of rumours that the government possibly wants to extend the ban on liquor and cigarettes until level 1 and is of the opinion that it will lead to a drastic increase in illegal trade, as well as crime.

Issued by Carina Bester, Media Relations Officer, AfriForum, 22 May 2020