WC govt insists neighbourhood watches can help during COVID-19 lockdown

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said neighbourhood watch members could manage queues at supermarkets, health facilities and transport hubs.

SANDF soldier on patrol in Manenberg. The military has released their soldiers to help stabilise gang hotspots, while law enforcement agencies conducted raids in the area. Picture: Bertram Malgas/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape government will continue to push for neighbourhood watches to assist in enforcing issues like social distancing during the lockdown, despite Police Minister Bheki Cele disagreeing with the move.

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz has this week again asked Cele to respond to the request.

The MEC said a way neighbourhood watch members could help was by managing queues at supermarkets, health facilities and transport hubs.

Fritz disagrees with Cele's view that neighbourhood watches cannot enforce the lockdown, because they are informal structures with no line of accountability.

He said they wanted to enlist accredited structures only, adding that in some areas people were just not adhering to lockdown regulations due to poor police visibility.

“We’re not requesting that they go do policing, we’re asking them to assist because we know criminals don’t respect the curfew.”

The MEC said they could and would act against neighbourhood watch members who stepped out of line.

The minister’s office has not yet responded to EWN's request for comment.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)