Neighbourhood Watch

Late yesterday I received an SMS from a close friend asking me to attend the neighbourhood watch meeting being held at St Francis Bay Golf club at 6:00pm. I immediately replied that I would try but for personal reasons probably wouldn’t attend. A return SMS asking that I please attend I guess motivated me into a change of heart as and so it was off the golf club for the second night in a row having attended the DA AGM the previous evening.
When a similar spike in crime as to what we are presently experiencing beset St Francis in August this year I was invited, more formerly, to attend a meeting to initiate a neighbourhood watch. Following that meeting I published article titled (read Neighbourhood Watch or CCTV) in St Francis Today.

It would appear that a group of volunteers did form a watch and according to comment early on in the yesterday’s meeting, it did serve as a deterrent to criminals resulting in a decrease in crime. As stated in the August article the concept ticks all the right boxes and there are many very effective watch groups operating successfully in South Africa. But sadly the reality of so many neighbourhood watch groups is that interest wains rather rapidly and one by one volunteers fall by the wayside leaving a small group of committed diehards to carry the flag.

Initially it seemed the purpose of the meeting was to motivate for volunteers to join up and form groups that would ‘patrol the lonely streets at night’ but somewhere after an unconvincing start where nobody seemed to certain of what to say next, John Hammond somewhat reluctantly at first, spoke up and got the meeting on track by inviting both SAPS Captain Gomoshe and Warrant Office van Heerden to address the meeting. They gave some insight on the state of crime and the problems facing SAPS as with so many state entities being hindered not only by budget cuts but also by bureaucracy and red tape. The Captain was confident that things were about to change once a SAPS General, due to visit St Francis in the near future had been to visit the station.

After a long discussion where some asked on statistics of SAPS  personnel and other topics, Greg Christie thankfully stepped in and stopped a dialogue that was going nowhere by pointing out that without facts on how SAPS deployed personnel based on population, not much could be done to motivate for more police.

One member of the audience then took the floor, apologies I left the meeting early and was unable to ascertain his name, brought up interesting information on nearby holiday town, Plettenberg Bay. After experiencing similar crime waves to what we are now seeing, Plett installed some 100 CCTV cameras. Crime, according to the speaker has dropped dramatically.

On August 30th, John Hammond set up a meeting at St Francis Links which only a handful of people attended. The purpose of the meeting was to see a demonstration on the benefits of CCTV. Again St Francis Today published a post on that meeting (CCTV makes sense) and as Hammond commented last evening, the St Francis Property Owners (SFPO) board is actively looking at ways to finance installation of CCTV initially in ‘crime hotspots’ and eventually expanding to cover most of St Francis.

By way of interest, several of the gated communities effectively use CCTV and in a recent incident where this scribe’s car was broken into, CCTV prevented the perpetrators stealing nothing but a pair of binoculars, which were soon and the CCTV footage captured led to the arrest of a suspect a few hours later.

Which brings up another matter raised by Mr Hammond, that of how unfortunately the justice and correctional services are the major problems regarding crime by either not prosecuting unless a watertight case against a suspect is in place or releasing suspects out on bail only for them to return to their community and continue their criminal activities. Please be aware this is not something the police have control over and it must frustrate them as much as it does us.

Finally a little gripe!

The St Francis Property Owners board were criticised for not having a representative at the meeting was rather unfair for several reasons. Firstly did they actually receive an invite? Had it not been the SMS from a friend asking me to attend I would not have been unaware of the event for I never saw it advertised. Secondly there was a wind farm function on at the same time so considering that the wind farms in the Kouga district contribute some R40million a year into the upliftment of the Kouga community, would their time not be better spent networking with those who can and are making a difference and possibly motivate that some of that money come st Francis’ way.

And lastly, was the purpose of the meeting intended  not to attract volunteers to “prowl the empty streets” by way of forming a neighbourhood watch? If this was the purpose of the meeting is there an expectation then that these SFPO board members, who are already doing a huge amount of work with the “SAVING ST FRANCIS” initiative now also expected to volunteer to spend even more time driving the streets at night? These board members who are retired business men give up countless hours of their time to say nothing of their generous financial contributions to the Saving St Francis funding.

If every resident did their part and made whatever contribution they could afford, be it monthly or even once off, maybe St Francis residents would not have to be asked to “prowl the empty streets”. That there are presently only some 150 paid up members of the residents portion of SFPO is an indication of lassitude that exists and rather than boosting the profits of Caltex and further damaging the ozone layer, joining the SFPO would surely better serve the community, not only in reducing crime by installing CCTV but also by having finances to improve the roads, the beach and so many other services that need urgent attention. Membership is just R450 a year (pensioners pay R300) and if you want to do good by contributing rather than complaining maybe take a step in the right direction. You can sign up for membership at

And should you be able to contribute more to helping the community either financially or in kind, why not join the St Francis Property Owners Non Profit Company (NPC). To see those making a real contribution to ‘Saving St Francis’ visit