OUR EYES & EARS – Neighbours Keeping Neighbours Safe

The Ballito MagazineDecember 19, 2023

For more than two decades, the Ballito Neighbourhood Watch has been a dedicated and integral part of the protection of the Ballito community, ensuring we can walk around town safely, raising awareness, and fostering a sense of community.

They work tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents. Ballito enjoys a relatively low crime rate, but the Neighbourhood Watch doesn’t rest on its laurels.

Instead, they use this as motivation to maintain or even improve this statistic. Their relentless efforts focus on deterring individuals with criminal intentions from entering the town and engaging in unlawful activities. During the pandemic, they actively participated in food drives and continue to assist with pet food drives, extending support beyond their town to neighbouring areas.

Chairman Morne emphasises the organisation’s alliance with stakeholders. “We are fortunate to have great relationships with our stakeholders, which boosts our town’s safety.” In addition to patrolling, the team collaborates with South African Police Services (SAPS), KwaDukuza Municipality (KDM) traffic control or the Community Policing Forum (CPF) on roadblocks and aids local security providers. They also offer, through their security and medical partners, self-defense courses and infant CPR classes, empowering residents with essential safety knowledge. Every two years, they paint house numbers on roads for easy identification by emergency personnel. The organisation also provides patrollers with branded, high-visibility jackets and branded decals for patrol cars.

“We don’t have more power than any resident,” Morne adds. “We are here to help report incidents.” Patrolling fuel expenses come from the patrollers’ own pockets, highlighting their selfless commitment to the community.

Ballito Neighbourhood Watch NPO plays a vital role in preparing for busy seasons in the town, ensuring safety measures are met. Morne notes, “Prime break-ins often occur in guesthouses, holiday lettings and Airbnbs due to holidaymakers feeling too relaxed and not securing their properties.”

About six years ago, RE/MAX fundraised for the installation of Automatic Number Plate Recognition

(ANPR) cameras at all of the Ballito and Salt Rock entrances and exits to help the organisation keep a closer eye on all neighbourhoods. These cameras have played a vital role in over 50 successful interventions, identifying stolen vehicles and aiding in the apprehension of individuals associated with local crimes, including a significant child trafficking bust.

This underscores the vital role of technology in community safety.

Ballito Neighbourhood Watch is dedicated to keeping residents informed and secure. They actively share incident reports on various community groups to ensure residents are aware of potential risks and can take necessary precautions. Additionally, they continuously provide safety tips to the community.

Most residents are part of WhatsApp road group chats, a crucial tool for reporting happenings promptly. The organisation’s committee is also part of a SAPS direct WhatsApp group, facilitating rapid communication with emergency personnel.

Morne adds that Ballito Neighbourhood Watch is working on plans to upgrade its security measures. “Currently, we are exploring Al (artificial intelligence) cameras for hotspots to stay ahead. We have also applied and are waiting for approval to install live monitoring cameras in local parks, similar to People’s Park in Stanger.” The group is constantly seeking additional patrollers to commit to just a 2.5-hour weekly shift, serving as the community’s eyes and ears and reporting potential incidents. You can also help the Neighborhood Watch by attending their popular yearly Potjie Competition. The proceeds from the tickets go directly to helping the organisation protect our town.

In the future, Ballito Neighbourhood Watch aims to organise more safety and medical awareness workshops in collaboration with stakeholders, empowering the community with knowledge and skills for their well-being.

MEMBERSHIP

• R250 per annum

• Get immediate access to primary groups with direct contact with

SAPS, medical and security providers

• The membership fee helps to pay for

ANPR data fees and maintenance as well as other safety and security measures we embark on.

www.ballitonw.org.za