Security boost: Neighbourhood Watches allowed to operate under Level 3

The Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, welcomes feedback received from the National Secretary of Police that Neighbourhood Watches (NHW) may now operate under Alert Level 3…

During a meeting on Monday between officials of the Department of Community Safety (DoCS) and the National Secretary of Police, it was confirmed that the restrictions placed on NHWs have been lifted under Alert Level 3.

Within the targeted COVID-19 hotspot areas, NHWs will be deployed to assist in:  

  1. Promoting adherence to regulations in terms of social distancing at places of gathering and queueing;

  2. Sharing communications as prescribed by DoCS, acting as a nodal point of information for DoCS; and

  3. Patrol in their community.

Minister Fritz said, "The presence of NHWs will serve to prevent crime. During the lockdown, we have seen an increase in vandalism of schools and shop robberies, in rural and urban communities alike. I have heard the call of the many NHWs and Community Police Forums (CPFs) who have raised their hands and offered their support during this difficult period and am pleased to announce that NHW may now operate."

Minister Fritz added, "As it stands, CPFs which have not yet held their electoral AGMS have been dissolved by the SAPS. My Department will engage with the Provincial Commissioner to expedite the outstanding elections."

The Department of Community Safety will ensure that measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst NHW members including: 

  1. The provision of cloth masks and hand sanitisers when operating;

  2. Setting the number of those who are permitted to operate and encouraging self-distancing between volunteers; and

  3. Ensuring that those who show symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 are not permitted to operate. They should quarantine at home for 14 days, and be guided by advice of our dedicated Covid-19 Provincial Hotline.

The use of NHWs during the lockdown was previously discredited by National Minister of Police, Bheki Cele who said that they are informal structures with no line of accountability.