Somerset 1 War on Crime March 16th August 2014

What used to be a safe suburb where families could walk the dogs, kids could walk to school or to the shops and businesses could conduct their business in a relatively safe town is no longer. In recent months the Central Business District of Somerset West has been rocked by a spate of armed robberies with residents of the town reporting an alarming increase crimes targeting their children. In Parel Vallei Road many of school children have been robbed walking home from school, some at gunpoint, while late night hijackings in quiet neighbourhoods are on the rise, with the latest victim a university student coming home after an exam. In the Main Road alone, gunmen have hit Anton Hattingh Jewelers and a few weeks later American Swizz, Mr Price, Telkom and twice at Markams, landing one security guard in hospital, while Deon Wired at Somerset Mall was robbed in a matter of minutes. In all instances these hits  Concern for the rise in crime rates is spreading throughout the community as more citizens join calls for aggressive action from all those involved to halt this crime wave with immediate decisive effect. 

The reason for the sudden crime rate escalation are complex. While some crimes are of an opportunistic nature, predominantly the criminals operating in this area are sophisticated and highly organized, hit soft-targets where security might be lacking and vigilance low. A lack of communication between the various crime fighting organizations and the community, and an increase in vagrancy and loitering in the area exacerbate the situation.

Investigating the crime wave hitting Somerset West these areas of concern came up

  1. Lack of Communication between SAPS and the Community
  2. Divisions in Community Police Forum and Neighborhood Watch mainly due to personalities (currently the CPF is non-operational due to in-fighting)
  3. Justice (Courts) suspects are let off due to problematic judicial procedures or lack of evidence, or granting lenient sentences, or granting bail and letting offenders back onto the streets where they commit further crimes while awaiting prosecution.
  4. A complacent business and community, reticent to get involved in crime fighting operations and crime prevention initiatives between SAPS and the business community
  5. Lack of clear leadership and political will power, and divisions between Somerset West citizens
  6. Poverty which is a national problem
  7. Community and NGO’s that encourage vagrancy and loitering to the neighborhoods and especially in the CBD.

Somerset 1, a group of more than 4000 community members has declared war on crime in Somerset West and has started the Somerset 1 War on Crime initiative under the leadership of community activist, Stephen Leppan. He has pledged, with the help of the community, to halve the crime in Somerset West through a bold, decisive action plan and stem the crime wave hitting the town and its citizens.

The Somerset 1 War on Crime will concentrate on the flowing

  • Restore relationships between local South African Police Service in Somerset West and the community. This hinges on the restoration of the CPF into its rightful place and thus requires the urgent resolution to resolve the deadlock.
  • Declare WAR ON CRIME with a community march against crime on Somerset West as a visible token of the community’s active engagement in combating crime.
  • Invest in and expand existing crime fighting technologies such as CCTV cameras in the CBD and expand community policing in the CBD.
  • Double the membership in Neighbourhood Watch patrollers, double the subscription of Helderberg Crime Watch community policing.
  • Increase community ‘buy in’, vigilance and crime prevention awareness at all levels.
  • Business Intervention: landlords and business owners support for central business district crime strategy and SAPS initiatives.

This Crime Action Plan will be launched with the Somerset 1 War on Crime March taking place on Saturday, 16th August 2014 at 11:00am Main Road, Somerset West.

The War on Crime March is supported by the following orginisations:

  1. DA Helderberg branch ward 84
  2. HCW
  3. Somerset West Neighborhood Watch
  4. Many small businesses in the Helderberg
  5. Hundreds of concerned residents
  6. District Mail

Direct Inquiries to:

Stephen Leppan
074 136 7775

Author: PR Officer

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