Sector managers plan to combat crime

Sergeant Gerida Knight, sharing her plans to prevent crime in Oranjezicht.

The new police sector manager for Oranjezicht, Sergeant Gerida Knight, is on a mission to combat crime and unite neighbours in the area.

Sergeant Knight is currently implementing a new strategy, which has already seen a decrease in the number of crimes from January to April.

She is the only female sector manager in Cape Town and brings to the position more than a decade of extensive experience as a police officer and a vast knowledge of the community as she has worked with the Oranjezicht Higgovale Neighbourhood Watch (OH Watch) since its inception.

She believes the only way crime can be prevented is through active partnership policing where all relevant community stakeholders work together.

According to Sergeant Knight, sector managers act like station commanders of the area which they are in charge of and schools, NGOs, churches, shopping centres in her sector can directly contact her for any crime-related issue.

Their mandate is to prevent and reduce crime and ensure the safety of all members of the community. “I interact and raise awareness in old age homes in my sector because I have the responsibility towards the safety of senior citizens, the safety of schoolchildren and I need everybody to get involved to ensure the safety of the Oranjezicht community.”

Sergeant Knight said she has so far run successful mop-up operations with the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement and Cape Town Central Improvement District (CCID) to take preventative measures, discuss concerns with role-players and come up with practical solutions.

Sergeant Knight said Kloof Street is fast becoming more like Long Street. Her priority is the parking lot outside McDonald’s on Kloof Street as that is where fights have broken out and people have been robbed.

Sergeant Knight’s biggest issue is the meter and Uber taxis that park there to wait for customers coming out of Long street drunk in the middle of the night.

“Most crime incidents have taken place there and someone died in that parking lot and the police could not even go in because of taxis that were parked there. I’m currently in talks with the ward councillor to find a solution for this problem.”

She said people are still leaving valuables in their cars, making it easy for opportunistic break-ins and they continue to do pamphlets drives to raise awareness about the issue.

Her other concern is break-ins at complexes in Oranjezicht where, she said, neighbours do not know each other. She said they needed to get involved by forming committees and working with the police to reduce crime. “One doesn’t have to know everyone in the block of flats, but at least know people from your block level.”

Sergeant Knight said the mandate is to reduce crime and change perceptions and for this to happen, she needs the whole community to come on board.

Every Monday, Sergeant Knight meets Oranjezicht security companies to analyse crimes that took place each week and discuss a strategy to prevent them. They work on patterns and focus on hot spots while providing police visibility in the area.

Vredehoek Devil’s Peak

According to Vredehoek Devil’s Peak sector manager, Captain Adolf Carstens, Vredehoek is an area affected mostly by house break-ins, theft of valuables from vehicles at night and in the early hours of the mornings. The problem in his sector is that most houses there do not have garages for off-road parking and that unfortunately, attracts criminals.

Captain Carstens said the challenge he is currently facing is the community’s failure to report crimes to the police and not only to the security companies in the area. Though they have a good relationship with the neighbourhood watch in the area, Captain Carstens said some residents are still unwilling to participate. “I urge the members of the community to give their cooperation and join us in fighting crime together because police cannot do it on their own,” he said.

Captain Carstens said the community could reduce crime if they could come together and do mini crime-free nights as they usually yield positive results in the Cape Town CBD area.

He said if more residents joined the WhatsApp groups created to fight crime and help neighbourhood watch structures, crime in this area would die down significantly.