On Sunday, 27th October 2019 a community meeting was held in the Roodepoort City Hall at which the community was addressed by various representatives including the Provincial Commissioner of Police as well as Provincial Management of the SAPS. The most important aspect that could be taken from the meeting was that the last six months has seen a marked spike in the amount of crime reported in the Roodepoort area, and whilst Sector 1, incorporating Roodekrans, Wilro Park, Helderkruin View, Helderkruin, Kloofendal and Breaunanda did not feature as criminal hotspots the fact remains that the incidence of housebreakings have risen in Sector 1 as is evidenced by the monthly crime stats that are sent out to you. A fundamental contributor to the current situation is the on-going decline of our economy which highlights the need for the community to get more involved in their local crime fighting structures such as the Neighbourhood Watches and CPFs, as these are playing an ever increasing role in the combating of crime in partnership with the SAPS. The crime hotspots that were identified at the meeting were Roodepoort CDB, Horison, Witpoortjie and Princess, which saw a sobering increase in contact crimes such as robbery with aggravating circumstances, common robbery, common assault, and assault GBH. At present, whilst we do have robberies in our area the majority of them do not involve direct contact that results in injury or even death to the victims.
One major contributing factor to the prevalence of housebreakings in our area that was specifically identified were the large expanses of open fields close to residential areas, which are used by suspects as cover from which to break into houses and thereafter to escape into. Of particular concern has been the uncontrolled access through the Kloof that divides Mogale City from Roodepoort, which sees a large migration of pilgrims using the gorge as a site for religious rituals and the collection of the spring water from the source of the Crocodile River. Criminals find it far too easy to move in and out of the area under the guise of being yet another pilgrim even though their true intentions are a far cry from the majority of pilgrims that enter the area daily. The Roodekrans Neighbourhood Watch (RNW) has now taken active steps to address this situation on a long-term basis. The occasional raids into the Kloof organised through the SAPS, Neighbourhood Watches and CPFs have proven to be ineffectual and a more permanent solution has to be found. One of these is the rehabilitation of what was once an established hiking trail for over 100 years, known as the Krans Alwyn Hiking Trail running from Voortrekker Road through the Manie Mulder Adventure Park down towards the Botanical Gardens. The Sugarbush Ridges Coalition, of which the RNW is an active coalition partner, is taking steps to try to re-establish this hiking trail to protect the unique biodiversity that is found in the gorge and to eradicate the plight of the black and silver wattle trees that have infested the river, resulting in the loss of millions of litres of water to this category one invader leading to the destruction of the indigenous habitat. Recent weeks has seen the establishment of a new coalition member to the SRC, the Kenmare Kloof Conservation Association (KKCA) who has employed a fulltime ranger to address the daily influx of pilgrims and to constantly remove cave dwellers that have been living in the caves and mineshafts for decades. The KKCA has been instrumental in starting the removal of the black and silver wattles along the river system and has to date removed 6 hectares with another 22 hectares of trees to be removed.
To this end the KKCA has deployed a team of 5 men to systematically eradicate the destructive trees under the watchful eye and guidance of conservationists. From our side, the RNW has been instrumental in partnering this project with an initial clean-up of the Manie Mulder Park, which was organised in conjunction with our Ward Councillor, Dr Florence Roberts and the City of Johannesburg. Further meetings are now scheduled with a number of important role-players that could effectively see the environmental protection of our ridge system with the ultimate goal of establishing a protected area extending from the Botanical Gardens up to Voortrekker Road incorporating the Kloof and its tributaries, as well as the greater Roodekrans Ridge all the way to the R28. Sponsorships are being sought from large companies and a meeting has already taken place with Plascon with further meetings to be scheduled with Coca-Cola and Sasol in the coming months. In the meantime, the Committee of the RNW has agreed to donate an amount of R1 500,00 per a month for the next twelve months to the KKCA to assist with their running costs and in particular the wages of the Ranger that is patrolling the Kloof area. The Ranger was extensively trained by environmentalists of the Botanical Gardens with hundreds of hours in specialised training on biodiversity and environmental protection. Whilst working along the Roodekrans Ridge, the rangers that operated on the ridge on behalf of the Botanical Gardens removed over a thousand snares in one month. One of the main aims of the project is to raise R4 Million in sponsorship to enable the erection of palisade fencing in and around the greenbelts to the Kloof to enable access control to be put into place for the first time leading to a substantial reduction in crime where criminals use the Kloof to enter the area and thereafter to escape into. Another major concern that these steps will seek to address is to stop people from camping in the Kloof overnight, which practise has been unchecked and has already resulted in a loss of 16 lives in the last 5 years with people drowning in the river and waterfall during the hours of darkness.
I have no doubt that this partnership will grow from strength to strength and that we will see positive results for the benefit of our community as well as our environment. I wish to take this opportunity of commending the outstanding work that is being carried out by our OPS Room and its staff members who effectively handle everything that gets thrown at them on a daily basis. The results are self-evident with crime, motor vehicle accidents, medical emergencies and service delivery issues being addressed speedily and efficiently. Our new Ward Counsellor, Dr Florence Roberts has hit the ground running to ensure that issues are addressed by escalating and exerting the necessary pressure where needed. A big thank you and to our OPS Room for your dedication and willingness to go far further than the extra mile. Thank you also to our patrollers and specialist standby teams that sacrifice many hours attending to crime scenes, motor vehicle accident scenes and medical emergencies on a daily basis. The RNW now has a large group of volunteers that have received Level 3 First Aid training and which have repeatedly been called upon to spring into action on short notice to assist whilst awaiting the arrival of emergency services. Our Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) team is always on scene to ensure the safety of emergency responders by controlling traffic to enable medical personnel to carry out its function without being fearful for their own safety.A vital element has been the cleaning up of accident scenes after the event to deal with precarious oil spills left behind after collisions, which could potentially lead to further accidents. To this end the RNW has acquired a specialised product to use on oil spills with remarkable successes. Thank you for all for your sacrifices and your dedication for which, you often do not receive the recognition you deserve. We anticipate that the months of November 2019 and December 2019 will once again see a proliferation of crime and our community is urged to be vigilant at all times.
The OPS Room is there to assist in any emergency so please keep the number on hand at all times whenever the assistance of your community is needed.