Containers being used as crime-fighting bases

Shipping containers are proving to be just what Cape Town communities need.

According to the city’s mayoral committee member for safety and security and social services, JP Smith, containers are playing a pivotal role in the fight against crime in several neighbourhoods.

In order to serve as an operations base for neighbourhood watches, 12-metre shipping containers are fitted with plug points, kitchens and toilets before being connected to the electricity and wastewater networks.

They then provide a much-needed hub for neighbourhood crime-fighting activities.

Smith said the latest deployment was the delivery of a converted container to a community in an informal settlement in Cape Town.

The Kosovo Neighbourhood Watch applied in 2015 for a container as part of its commitment to rooting out crime in the informal settlement.

The Westgate Neighbourhood Watch in Mitchells Plain took delivery of a similar container in August.

“These containers act as places where neighbourhood watch members can gather for deployment, breaks or even just to be accessible to the public to report incidents,” said Smith. “Many watch groups do not have a central gathering point, and it becomes even more tricky in an informal settlement like Kosovo, so this container represents an opportunity to improve the neighbourhood watch’s operations.”

Smith said the Westgate Neighbourhood Watch had opted to use its container to not just serve as the group’s headquarters, but also to monitor the community CCTV system.

According to councillor Mzwakhe Nqavashe, an application has been made to the city to place a permanent clerk at the Kosovo container to also assist the community with other city-related service delivery matters.

This, he said, would ensure maximum value from the facility.

Smith said the containers were secured and refurbished by the city as part of its commitment to assist neighbourhood watch organisations.

“The importance of community policing should not be underestimated,” said Smith. “We have witnessed first-hand how crime has dropped in areas with well-organised neighbourhood watch groups.”

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