Communication increases safety in City Bowl

Picture: Matthew Jordaan/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

A plan to improve the safety of people living in and around the City Bowl has achieved great successes since it started more than a decade ago.

It was in 2006 that residents living in the Tamboerskloof area came together after a series of violent crimes in the area.

The plan was to join forces and make a positive impact on the situation. This led to the birth of what is today known as the City Bowl Communication Hub that was facilitated by the Tamboerskloof Neighbourhood Watch (TBKWatch).

“We cover a large part of the City Bowl, from Buitensingel to Bellevue Road and from Kloof Street to Signal Hill,” said TBKWatch chairperson Thorsten Kingelhoeffer.

This is a voluntary organisation with around 700 registered members. “Our goal is not to replace or replicate what is already being done by the police or security companies, but rather to work together with them. We are doing this by becoming active participants in our own safety, “ said Mr Kingelhoeffer.

He added that a key part of their successes thus far has been their co-operation and co-ordination with other law enforcement and security role players.

The organisation holds weekly meetings with the police where they analyse and plan activities based on crime trends.

They also enjoy a positive relationship with the private security companies operating in the City Bowl and together respond to complaints from public open spaces in the areas.

Mr Kingelhoeffer said technology had also played a big part. “Human resources can be more strategically deployed while automation and technology take care of the rest, for example, the City Bowl has a large network of strategically placed cameras which all link back to the City Bowl communication hub Watchcom. TBKWatch and the other watches in the City Bowl link up with Watchcom, from where information about incidents is sent out to relevant role-players to respond,” he said.

He added that they are in constant radio contact with each other, with the SAPS and City Law Enforcement, and the Central Improvement District (CID). However, Mr Kingelhoeffer said human behaviour still had the final say in an area’s general safety.

“The presence of licence plate recognition (LPR) cameras and a high-tech radio network does not mean that you and I can now neglect basic safety habits. We still need to be vigilant and responsible and we must look out for one another,” said Mr Kingelhoeffer.

TBKWatch receives funding and logistical support from Fidelity ADT. The company’s district manager, Jade Hanning, said organisations such as TBKWatch and other City Bowl neighbourhood watches were valued partners.

“It is just physically impossible for us to be everywhere, all the time. TBKWatch and its members act as eyes and ears and provide with valuable information so that we can better help prevent crime in the City Bowl,” said Mr Hanning.

Mr Kingelhoeffer explained that the highlight of their work was – to borrow a term from the 1980s TV show, The A Team – when a plan comes together. “We have a problem with opportunistic crimes such as thefts out of motor vehicles. It fills my heart with pride when I hear that our members worked hand-in-hand with SAPS and with private security companies to help arrest any suspect who saw an opportunity to steal something,” he said.