Crime watch to again patrol N2

NORMAN MCFARLANE

The “N2 hell-run” as it has become known, will once more be patrolled during its busiest hours in darkness, by Helderberg Crime Watch (HCW), a non-profit organisation that provides armed response and community patrolling services to subscribers in the Helderberg Basin.

HCW is the name under which Section 21 company Helderberg Community Policing trades, and is headquartered at Somerset Mall.

The patrol vehicles are supplied by local security company Vetus Schola, which is contracted to HCW to provide all required security related services to HCW members.

The resumption of N2 patrols came about because of the increasing number of requests from members the community to the Somerset West Community Police Forum (CPF), according to CPF chairperson, Bill Smith: “These residents voiced concern about the safety of their loved ones who travel regularly on the N2 in the hours of darkness to get to work and back, and I approached HCW to patrol the N2 as they did last year.”

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With the onset of winter and shorter days, people who commute to Cape Town via the N2 will increasingly travel in the dark during peak traffic periods, when they are most at risk. “There are already reports of stoning and assaults on motorists using the N2 and there is a need for additional patrols to assist law enforcement agencies wherever possible,” said Mr Smith.

HCW chairperson Peter Brand confirmed HCW’s commitment to the initiative: “As a community bas-ed non-profit community policing entity, HCW has a genuine concern for our motorists on the N2, and will assist wherever possible, within our financial constraints,” he said.

Vetus Schola will carry out weekday armed patrols from the R44 interchange on the N2, to Spine Road extension, until the end of October, from 4.30am to 7.30am, and from 5pm to 7pm, the times considered to be most dangerous for commuters.

But such services do come at a cost, and HCW’s Peter Brand appealed to the community to help: “The harsh reality is that it does cost money to do this and we don’t want this initiative to be at the expense of the other services that we render. We ask our subscribers, who are regular users of the N2, to contribute R300 (R50 per month) and they will receive HCW’s pre-designed N2 sticker, to be attached to the outside of the windscreen above the license disk, to assist in identifying those who support this initiative.” Any vehicle displaying the HCW N2 sticker that breaks down on this stretch of the N2, can be towed to HCW’s offices at Somerset Mall, free of charge, according to Mr Brand.

Asked about the suspension of the patrol system last year, Mr Smith said: “What happened last year was a misunderstanding of the use of lights on the patrol vehicle. This has been now resolved.

“I have been communicating with both the City of Cape Town and the MEC for transport for the province, Donald Grant. Both these entities have given their approval for this community driven initiative.”

City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, confirmed the City’s support for the initiative in an email to Bolander on Friday: “The City of Cape Town is not opposed to the involvement of external role players in creating safer communities. In fact, we actively support community policing structures to further strengthen our response to crime and criminality,” he said.

“In the case of the N2, we were concerned that the private role players were using the incorrect lights on their vehicles and had (on at least two occasions) been stopped and fined by Cape Town Traffic Services. The use of blue lights is only permitted in terms of the National Road Traffic Act and is confined to policing agencies only. We advised that they stay within the boundaries of the law by using a fixed white light and not flashing blue LED lights.”

According to Mr Brand, HCW will liaise closely with SAPS and the traffic management centre about incidents where they have provided assistance on the N2, and an analysis of these incidents will be made available to local media to keep residents informed.

* Contact the HCW offices on 021 852 3118 to order your sticker.

To make a donation, deposits can be made into HCW’s bank account at Standard Bank, Helderberg Branch, account number 072 316 780, quoting “N2” and the donor’s name as reference.