Usually, when we climb or ride up mountains, we do so to see what’s on top.
But sometimes, it’s to look back down.
To where we’ve come from.
To look into the valleys of our daily lives.
Perhaps to see things differently, with a bird’s eye view.
From high up on the Helderberg, above Bolander country, I looked down into a river valley, the place I live.
I saw houses, hundreds, maybe a thousand.
I saw roads, threading between the houses – streets lined by trees.
I saw two schools, a petrol station, an old-age home, a few parks, a nature reserve.
And the river which runs through the valley.
It all looked gorgeous.
I wanted to protect this valley. For ever. For I love it so.
And I’m not alone. Safety is everyone’s Number One priority – regardless of where we live.
I wondered what could protect my suburb. Keep it safe.
Safe against multiple threats and dangers.
Policemen and patrol cars?
No. Police cars will always be a miniscule resource.
If tens of thousands of people rely on one white van, they’ll be in serious trouble.
And the police’s budgets aren’t about to get bigger, any time soon.
No. I learned a long time ago that by far the biggest operating budget is citizens’ energy.
So what, then, can unite us?
The answer is: leadership.
Leadership which does three essential things:
And brokers partnerships.
In the realm of safety, there are probably at least 30 essential role-players, just to start with.
The police (SAPS), to arrest criminals.
The Metro Police and municipal law enforcement to police our bylaws.
The traffic department – for traffic enforcement.
Road engineers, to ensure safe road quality, and to introduce traffic calming measures.
The guys at municipal street lighting. And sewerage.
Our school governing bodies, school management teams and school safety committees.
Community police forums, who have oversight over police.
The local private businesses, to help fund local safety initiatives.
Then there are the people who offer the critically important services like victims support, and the social workers, the counsellors, the youth leaders, and holiday programmes.
And the communicators: those who articulate “Our Integrated Safety Plan” for our area. Who spell out the narrative.
So every single role-player knows their individual role.
Their piece of the puzzle, their contribution towards the whole.
Our collective contribution to our safety will be a complex collaboration.
But we can overcome that. We manage complex partnerships every day.
We can do this.
Establish a system which runs itself. Sustainably. A well-oiled machine.
So, if you’re reading this on Wednesday August 3, you may wish to reflect:
Which leader/s will succeed in activating and enabling us, brokering effective partnerships, towards our united safety?
Forget about those who shout the loudest. Who make the most promises.
The leaders we need are not those who funnel the pipe of patronage in our direction.
It’s those who unlock OUR energy. Because that’s the far biggest resource.
This is the view from above, from the top of the mountain.
The perspective that we vote, we’ll only be looking for a leader to unite us.
The real work will start tomorrow, Thursday August 4, back down in the valley.
And most of the work will be…?