With an inaugural committee meeting on August 13, 2009, the Gillitts Park Neighbourhood Watch was formed out of a need to combat the spiraling crime rates which we experience. With an average of two house-breakings or hijackings per week and three known professional housebreaker gangs in operation in our area, the residents of Gillitts Extension 1 or Gillitts Park had had enough.
A group of residents met in the interests of working together to secure our neighbourhood in whatever way necessary. Discussions soon led to the inclusion of SA CAN, whose communications and crime management solutions at the time were perfect for a community who wanted to actively fight back against crime and put the criminal elements in a cage where they belong.
Such was the success of these initial efforts, that 9 suspects were caught-in-the-act and arrested in our area over a single month in 4 separate cases.
Where we are now...
Nine years down the road we are widely acknowledged as being a stable and effective community association which goes above and beyond the simple neighbourhood watch of those early days. We have our own simple solutions to incident management which have been working extremely well.
We have well established sub committees which support the three pillars we believe are vital to making a community association effective and sustainable and these are:
•The Neighbourhood Watch,
•Community Building and
•The Management of our Environment,
These three elements work together to build a safe, secure, clean and green place to be.
In detail this is what we are doing right now in these three pillars:
•A citizen patrol group has made an enormous impact on reducing criminal activity in the area. There is a group of some 68 patrollers who drive through the area when most of us are sleeping, link up with our neighbouring patrol groups and respond with security companies and SAPS as eyes and ears when anything suspicious is seen. This is managed on a day to day basis by Tracey Lynch and her close team, with Grant Laret overseeing the crime whats app groups and vital database which allows us to be in contact with the majority of our community.
•The Camera Project is totally up and running with 11 existing cameras.
- To all the residents - members or not - we have 15 crime whats app groups which alert and allow residents to post items of concern. If you are not on one of these whatsapp groups please contact the Ops phone: 071 624 2099
- To the patrol group and linked neighbouring patrol groups. This is via Whats App groups which are working extremely well, as well as a cell phone application, Zello.
•Relationships with Service Providers has ensured excellent service delivery and standard, well priced Monitoring and Armed Response fees for new clients in the area.
•Relationships with next door Neighbourhood watch and CPF structures helps in the sharing of ideas which work, and also provides information on “cross border” incidents.
Why you ask? Well good neighbourliness is a vital key factor in security. If you know your neighbours and what is going on in the area you tend to care a bit more. Examples of opportunities to get together which we organise are: Carols by Candlelight, the Spring Fair. We also encourage streets to meet and have “street braais” to welcome new neighbours and get to know one another. Most important is for us to have a database of all residents so we can send out news of interest and alerts!
We also have a Care Group of dedicated and talented people, headed up by Sandy Kalyan, who look out for those in the area who have come upon difficult times. For example, recovery from car accidents and an elderly person who fell and was unable to look after herself. We also have a safe house facility in case of need. This is accessed via our Duty phone 071 624 2099 which is answered 24/7.
Examples of areas which we ensure are kept clear of undergrowth and maintained are:
•Walking route for staff from Edward Drive to the M13
•The rail reserve area from Camp Road through to Ashley Drive.
•Ashley Dam – here Parks Department now maintain this regularly and a resident has donated benches for our enjoyment.
•Iphithi – we assisted in finding solutions and then ensuring the parking area was secured. This clever solution was sponsored by a resident. For those of you who don’t know, gate access is controlled remotely. If you are an Iphithi sponsor then all you have to do is miss call the gate number and it will open for you. If you are not you need to phone the number on the gate to gain access.
•Sheila Place/Ashley green belt – this area is maintained by Parks, and the bushy area on Sheila Place is managed by a resident.
•Deborah Crescent – this steep area has been a hiding place for suspicious characters and now is a great place to visit.