The official South African crime statistics has revealed what residents of Jeffreys Bay and South Africa have known all along. Criminals are targeting people in their homes and in their places of work, often with violent consequences.

Jeffreys Bay is sitting with just over 40 housebreakings a month which is simply unacceptable. Not too long ago we could sleep in our homes without even locking the doors and security was simply not a day to day issue in our lives.

Many of the elderly residents of the town still feel that they have the right to sleep with their windows open and to leave their doors open when watching television at night. Unfortunately that way of thinking can make one part of the crime statistics in modern day Jeffreys Bay.

What can be done about the situation?

Firstly it must be accepted that the Police cannot win the war against crime by themselves. On a national level we have too few Policemen on the beat and often it is a case of containing crime, rather than a focus on crime prevention. The model of trying to secure South Africa through crime statistics as opposed to a ratio of policemen/population is flawed and will increase the danger of “fudging” of the statistics.

A ratio method is the only logical way to win the war against crime. There will be a continual influx of foreigners entering our country, raising tensions amongst South Africans just trying to eke out an existence. And more jobless will equal more crime at some point. We cannot hide behind the fact that xenophobia does exist and the hiding behind a national decree that the attacks against foreigners are crime based is wrong.

Secondly the community has a role to play in ensuring their own safety. It is also too late to bemoan that we pay taxes and therefore security is the Government’s problem. Service delivery is lacking in many Government departments and the Police is no expectation.

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The Aston Bay, Paradise Beach and Ocean View suburbs have led the way with community involvement in fighting crime. Many nights are spent patrolling and doing foot patrols in these suburbs, making it difficult for criminals to operate.

You can make a difference. The elderly are not expected to leave their cars when on patrol, but to rather be the eyes and ears of the Neighbourhood Watches and the Police. The younger members of the community may have jobs and need their sleep but offering up one or two nights a month is not asking too much. The Community Police Forum (CPF) also organises regular special operations together with the Police and other security organisations in the town.

Jeffreys Bay is on a knife edge and the crime statistics can go either way over the next year. There will be a continued influx of people from the rural areas looking for work, which will be accelerated if the Nuclear Power Station at Thyspunt goes ahead. It is doubtful whether we will get more policemen to counter the resultant rise in crime. The Police and the defenceless in our community need our help. The time has come.

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