Eblockwatch Mandela Day “Ambush” kick starts Eblockwatch’s bold Alex initiative.
In the hopes of establishing a more structured security network in the Alexandra community, eblockwatch started a projected called the Alexandra Patrollers over a decade ago. The nature of the support took the form of “please call me” or SMS’ sent by the patrollers when a resident was in trouble or under threat and there would be a response by Snyman’s team with security reaction. These patrollers fondly became known as the Alexandra Mamas: a group of older ladies who implemented a simple, yet effective system of strolling down the streets, wrapped in warm blankets and armed with whistles which they blew if they noticed criminal activity. Working with the Alexandra Mamas – the man on the ground – was a fiery young man known as “Bulldog” who was the township contemporary to eblockwatch’s Andre Snyman.
The collaborative efforts with the Alexandra Mamas worked exceptionally well: they were the ones who would notify Snyman of the whereabouts of hijacked cars, for instance, allowing authorities at eblockwatch to be ahead of the game, aiding authorities in tracking down criminals. Their anonymity in the township was the Alexandra Mama’s greatest attribute. However, there was the question of what these incredible people helping put criminals behind bars, were getting in return.
In an effort to assist, Snyman attempted to get work for those connected to the Alexandra Mamas and their community, however, the picture was unjustly painted to resemble an exploitative exercise by the media which sadly brought the project to an end. Despite the end of the project, Alexandra remained close to Snyman’s heart.
“Alex is built in a series of blocks and on a clear night from a particular corner, you can see the beautiful lights of Sandton and big buildings going up, yet the people of Alex are still living in squalor. Attention is only paid to this area ahead of elections as part of a political game rather than our governments implementing real change. How is this right, especially when the locals know ‘that if Alex doesn’t eat by day, Sandton doesn’t sleep ‘by night? This is on my mind constantly and it’s been on my heart to try and deter the crime in that area before the next election.”
Snyman adds that his vision entails Alexandra being divided into small blocks with their own Residents Association (RA) which is then paired with an eblockwatch (RA), like Sandton, opening the lines of communication and collaborating to start aiding in solving one another’s problems. “The next phase would be to get the Residents Associations in the suburbs to cover the cost of a patrol vehicle in the block of the RA that they are linked to in Alex,” elaborated Snyman. An impassioned Snyman adds that “this way, you won’t need the Army in that area to solve crime.” This is where Snyman’s Mandela Day “ambushing” of Vumacam, smart camera network supplier, becomes significant.
Using the power of Vumacam’s technology, their cameras can create small, targeted units to collectively call on the security companies in the area, and along with the respective security companies and Johannesburg Metro Police Department, there can be an effective response to criminal activity in Alex. A novel idea which is taking root as Vumacam CEO, Ricky Croock, has agreed to sponsor R 5 000 000 worth of cameras to help bring this vision to life. After all, as Croock says, “our vision to make the whole of South Africa safe, especially in under-served areas is real and we are excited to be part of this eBlockwatch initiative”.
Snyman has it all worked out: “Phase one is where we get cameras up and at phase two, we back it up with security monitoring. This is followed by phase three when we implement trauma counselling, online education and other services that should be supplied by the government. Hereafter at phase four, we get the big corporates in to adopt a street and uplift, develop and change just one street. We can get online education sponsored and do so much if we come together, but it will start with getting these areas safer.
This is what needs to happen…this is UBUNTU, caring for ourselves and those who don’t have.”
If you would like to be part of this iniative please contact Andre Snyman on +27 82 561 1065 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org