Is CCTV a better solution than Neighbourhood Watch?

CCTV or Neighbourhood watchThere is little doubt that in recent weeks crime has escalated throughout St Francis. Concerned residents have started a Whatsapp group that went viral in the first day it was launched and talk seems now to centre on crime rather than the weather. It would seem in spite of their very best efforts SAPS are doing their very best but we must that they are understaffed and have too few vehicles to patrol the huge area under their jurisdiction. Our security companies Calibre and SMHart are working tirelessly in responding to crime activity but it must be accepted that their task is really to service their clients, not the community. That they do help the community at large must not go unnoticed they should be thanked for their efforts in supplementing the police efforts which truly is beyond their call of duty considering they are at times, risking their lives for going that extra mile.

There has been some talk of forming Neighbourhood Watch groups to combat this increased crime in the greater St Francis. The roots of neighbourhood crime prevention, including Neighbourhood Watch, can be traced back to a Chicago School and its focus on the relationship between the social environment of neighbourhood and crime in the late 1960s.

The concept ticks all the right boxes and there are many very effective watch groups operating in South Africa. But there are many failed initiatives for unless the community is fully behind the concept they are sadly doomed to failure. Having been a member of a group in the eighties was initially great fun and being teamed up with the then mayor of the town gave us certain privileges including a ‘blue light’. Unfortunately as the weeks of getting up at midnight, or staying up to “patrol the empty streets” (some oldies will recall that line from the days before television in the popular radio series ‘Squad Cars’) soon took toll on many of the members. Work, travel and family commitments saw the group dwindle until there was only a handful left to do patrols. Inevitably through lack of personnel, interest, support and motivation the group disbanded.

But personnel and motivation aside! Consider the cost of those patrolling not only their valuable time and time away from their family but also the cost of petrol and vehicle costs incurred whilst they drive the area night after night. And being working people normally, there are no patrols during the day when crime does occur.

Some months ago John Hammond set up a meeting at St Francis Links for a demonstration of CCTV equipment. No doubt some left the meeting muttering over the cost but in reality it is probably the least expensive way of securing an area, particularly  high risk areas that are regularly targeted by criminals.

Another meeting is being arranged at St Francis Links on the 30th August at 17:00 (5:00pm) where a group called Elf will be presenting a possible solution to the costs.

Below is a press release from John about what the meeting.


As part of the investigation into a St Francis CCTV solution we have, with the assistance of Wayne Furphy, chairman St Francis Property Owners, made contact with a company called Elf Rentals based in Port Elizabeth. This group are major systems integrator to the security industry, in short they design, supply and maintain any technology required for the management of security around any form of estate, village or town.

Elf are not in competition with any local armed response service providers and in most cases local service providers such as Smhart & Calibre will welcome the community injection of technology to enable them to perform their duties better.

The majority of Elf’s work is on a rental basis where they fund the capital off their own balance sheet, install the hardware and insure and maintain it, where the community enter into a rental agreement with the HOA/entity to recoup the capital and fund the servicing costs.

This model works really well with estates or towns on a fixed levy structure where raising capital via a special levy is a challenge. The client has a fixed monthly expense and a guarantee that the equipment works.

Elf currently looks after 60 odd estates in the Fourways, Lone Hill & Midrand areas as well as several golfing Estates, most of the high end estates in PE which is HQ of the group.

We have invited Elf to present an overview of their offer to the community as another step in the gathering of information on a St Francis CCTV solution.

We invite members of the community / representative of groups/ estates or communities to attend.

Please feel free to give your local Community Police Sectors a call to discuss any element of how we can make St Francis a safer and better place to live.


John Hammond

Meeting Date: 30th August
Day & Time: Tuesday 17h00
Venue: St Francis Links – TBC

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