Travelling down to Oudtshoorn to write a travel article for jbaynews.com was a real eye opener for me. The first thing that grabs your attention as you drive into Oudtshoorn is that the town is clean. The verges are well maintained and the streets are free of rubbish and debris.
As I drove around getting my bearings, one suddenly realizes that the houses don’t have burglar bars and that there are no security company vehicles cruising the suburbs and there no electric fences protecting the houses.
I was a bit perturbed when I booked into my accommodation to discover yet again there were no burglar bars on the windows of the chalet and no outer perimeter security.
That is when the realization hit me: What has become of Jeffreys Bay that we have accepted a standard of living that is fear driven? Fear of being attacked in our own homes, a fear that never existed in the town when I first moved here in the 1980’s.
Whilst in Oudtshoorn a friend of mine phoned me to have my number on her speed dial because her husband was away for the night. Why do we live under such horrendous circumstances in Jeffreys Bay?
ADT and G4 Security, the biggest two security companies in South Africa don’t have a noticeable presence in Oudtshoorn. Yet, Jeffreys Bay is a boom town for security companies with a fourth operator recently opening up shop in our once peaceful town.
The Police crime statistics from 2002 – 2008 reveal a grim picture for Jeffreys Bay. House robberies have nearly doubled in that time period and it is not difficult to understand why a security company is a recession proof business in our town.
Yet the same statistics reveal that house robberies in Oudtshoorn have halved over the same time period. Admittedly crime statistics never tell the full story but they certainly indicate why we are living in fear in Jeffreys Bay.
The local Police are doing the best they can with limited resources so what is the solution for Jeffreys Bay? Or do we just accept living a life where women are too scared to leave a door open during the day when they are home alone and we live under lock and key at night?
We are fortunate that we have a strong and operational Community Police Forum (CPF) in our town that should reach out to their colleagues in places like Oudtshoorn and find out what is working for them that we can apply in Jeffreys Bay to reduce crime.
The Neighbourhood Watch system is working well in our town and everyone who is able should join in and support the Watch that is active in their suburb. The more visible we are, the more uncomfortable it will become for criminals.
The Local government also has a role to play. Beggars hassling people in the streets don’t seem to be tolerated in Oudtshoorn who have more tourists than Jeffreys Bay due to the close proximity of the Cango Caves alone. The town has geared itself to being tourist friendly and in doing so, has ensured that locals can live in peace and quiet.
Driving along the R62, the border between the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape tells a complete story in itself. In the Western Cape the roads have been resurfaced recently and have yellow lines demarcating the borders of the highway. In the Eastern Cape we have yellow signs warning motorists that there are potholes that should be avoided.
It is time that the residents of our town rise up and say that enough is enough. Or are we going to sit back and just watch the next huge influx of people coming to town looking for work because of a nuclear power station that could be built close by? This next influx will see the crime rate spiral out of control in Jeffreys Bay if we allow it to happen.