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By Dimakatso Modipa

Ward 67 councilor Sizwe Tsiane, Mams Grill owner Mandla Ndlovu and the patrollers of ward 67 photo by Dimakatso Modipa

Thirty volunteer community patrollers in Ward 67, Mamelodi West, were honored by local Councilor Sizwe Tsiane on Friday for the sacrifices that they make on a daily basis to protect the local residents in the ward.

They were given a donation of beeps, watches, whistles, and medals.

Tsiane said the community patrollers have been in existence for two years now and were established when he took over as Councilor.

“There were many criminal incidents happening in our ward, including livestock theft at the nearby mountain, muggings, house-breaking and domestic violence with men beating up their wives,” explained Tsiane as he stressed that the said criminal incidents are the original reason behind his decision to form the patrollers organisation.

“What we are saying is that these patrollers are selflessly putting their lives on the line daily and compromising their livelihoods to protect the community and reduce levels of criminality, illegality and drug abuse in our area,” explained Tsiane.

“We are saying to them as residents that we recognise their work in making sure that the community develops and at the same time urge other sections to also own up for the development and safety of their communities at all material times,” he said.

“Communities will never develop and be safe if we expect the police to tackle the issue of crime alone,” emphasised Tsiane, adding that community members must play an active role in crime-fighting initiatives.

“We are bigger in number as compared to the police and we as members of the community are the ones who have information regarding crime in our area,” he said.

He pointed out that Ward 67 residents were willing to work hand-in-glove with the police to stamp out gender-based violence and any other kind of crime that may surface and compromise the livelihoods of residents.

Tsiane said the gathering to honour the patrollers is actually a dinner party whereby patrollers will also be handed reflectors and discuss measures to fight crime in the area.

Tsiane explained that the patrollers were greatly appreciated by the community and urged everyone to support them in any way possible as they ( patrollers) don’t have resources and literally depend on donations for survival.

“The patrollers need food and working equipment like torches, reflectors, whistles and shelter wherein they can set up office and be visible for the community to know where to find them in times of need,” he said.

He stressed that honouring the patrollers was not an election ploy as the event was being held at a time the elections have passed.

He explained that honouring the patrollers depends on the availability of time and resources and that there was no time frame as to when they should be honoure.

“There are loopholes in what they are doing but with time they have grown to be a better outfit in their work with support from people who have lended their different expertise to them,” he said.

“This event is a ward-based initiative led by me as Councillor and we are saying to the patrollers we are with them all the way,” said Tsiane.

Tsiane pointed out that he has a passion for community initiatives like celebration of Mother’s Day and Christmas Drive as these were community building events but can only be celebrated in a safe environment.

He said when he campaigned to be Councillor in the area he promised to strengthen the activities of the patrollers and that is what he was doing today.

“It takes a community to ruin or develop itself,” he said.

Tsiane expressed regret as he was now swamped with Ward Councillor duties, and was no longer hands-on in the activities of the ward patrollers.

He expressed regret that since the DA-led administration took over the City of Tshwane many programmes like community safety, which were supportive to the community, have been cancelled.

One of the leaders of the ward patrollers, Thabang Mabasa, told the gathered crowd that at the formation of the ward patrollers group, he faced many personal challenges as he was regarded as the “face ” of the patrollers and was physically attacked by criminal elements at some point in time.

“I have been through a lot to the extent that I was stabbed and had to be hospitalised, my parents’ house was burnt down, and I was accused of murder and many other crimes which I had not committed,” lamented Mabasa.

“As we depend on donations for survival, we have realised that those donations are not enough to sustain us as a group of thirty patrollers,” he said.

“As a result we started a side hustle whereby we ask for security work at events taking place at Moretele Park pleasure resort and also help out residents for a fee at houses where there is a funeral or unveiling of tombstones,” he said.

Mabasa jokingly complained that Premier Panyaza Lesufi was hijacking their crime-fighting plans like the establishment of crime wardens (AmaPanyaza) and the installation of CCTV cameras in every street in the community.

He revealed that patrollers want a situation whereby they would be registered as a security company and be able to escort Councillors wherever they go.

Mabasa warned the community and criminals not to take them for granted as they are brave and in many cases have managed to confront and disarm criminals of their guns while carrying only sjamboks ( whips).

He explained that all that they have to carry out their patrol duties are whips, whistles and beeps.

Councillor Tsiane donated three stop watches, three packets of whistles and beeps to the patrollers, and also handed them medals as a sign of appreciation and gratitude.

Elderly resident Peter Masanabo said many youths had joined the patrollers but didn’t last long and that he was grateful that the remaining thirty members of the patrollers group were still committed to their duties to protect the community.

He warned the patrollers to remain united and not let anyone or anything come between them, stressing that they must guard against agents who might join them with the aim of spying for criminals.

Mams Grill owner Mandla Ndlovu, who supplied food for the ceremony, said: “I would like to thank the patrollers for volunteering their time to make things happen and I hope that as time goes by we will be able to reward them properly.”

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