OH Watch Blog: updates to residents

MAKING A DIFFERENCE IS YOUR CHOICE

Making a difference is your choice

(This is an edited version of Mixael de Kok’s speech to the regional AGMs of PRISA. Mixael de Kok was a National President of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa.)

Volunteerism has an enormous impact on the way a society progresses. While most people don’t have as much time to devote to worthy causes these days, volunteering benefits the volunteers just as much as the benefactors.

In my research on the subject of volunteerism, I picked up this little Russian joke:
Policeman to drunk: “Tell us, what forces you to drink vodka every day?”
Drunk: “Nothing. I’m a volunteer.”

And in my search, I found this valuable quote by the legendary Hollywood sex symbol, Mae West: “Volunteer activities can foster enormous leadership skills. The non-professional volunteer world is a laboratory for self-realisation.”
It has always been accepted that the heart of a volunteer is not measured in size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others. Such words are noble and described a reality of long ago when the ancient Greeks held that “A civilisation flourishes when people plant trees under which they will never sit.”

What I am going to propose is that volunteerism – or the failure of volunteerism, coupled with a lack of commitment – is the very thing that has been slowly eroding civil society the world over: Going back into history one finds that it is volunteerism that has been the driving force behind societal evolution. And it is volunteerism that, after the ravages of the industrial revolution, created civil society in the West.
In fact, volunteering has been shown to be the ultimate exercise in democracy. In elections you vote. But when you volunteer; you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.

Even Lord Spencer and Andrew Carnegie knew that corporates and skilled people were needed to man certain societal structures in order to make civil interaction possible. Early on they identified the broadest – and maybe the most meaningful – definition of volunteering: Doing more than you have to because you want to in a cause you consider good.

In modern history we observe three distinct phases of volunteerism:
▪ There is the start-up phase in volunteerism, which dates from the industrial revolution to World War 2;
▪ Then there is the Golden Age of volunteerism, which is the post-war period until the 1980s; and
▪ The decline of volunteerism, between the 1990s and now, where it is non-existent.

The Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher alliance is what destroyed volunteerism. The birth of fundamentalist capitalism obliterated the phrase: “Put yourself in some-one’s shoes, because in this contemporary, fast-paced life, we are, most of the time, forced to be self-centred. We have forgotten to stop for a moment and give our time to others and, in the process, the true meaning of empathy is lost.
In the process of destroying the Kensyan economic models, we were promised riches as never seen before and riches trickling down to all. The understanding was that if we were to lift all controls on the free market, everyone would benefit. But the free market is a concept, not a human being. And abstract concepts do not have consciences.
We have ended up in a society in which we have created three times the wealth of ever before, but it is concentrated in far fewer hands. At the same time poverty bases have increased by 500% and the only thing to trickle down from “Reagonomics” has been cuts in social spending – and all but the total destruction of the trade-union movement. We now have moved into the Era of the 21st Century Slavery.

What is important to know is that at the beginning of the 1980s a 10% return on investment was accepted as fair. Nowadays, we are talking of 33% to 40% annual returns on investments before the “shareholders” are marginally satisfied.
The net result is that long-term planning has gone out the door. Management’s expertise is focused on quarterly results and short-term decision-making.
It is almost as if the Armageddon-thinking of the US now also pervades the international community. Is the expectation really that the end is imminent and that we should make hay while the earth still rotates?

In Singapore they say: “Life is never so busy that there is no time to serve.”
But that is in Singapore. The reality is that people in the Western-orientated countries are pressed like never before. For a Westerner to uphold the lifestyle of the early 1980s we now have to work 400% more.
Consequently, companies can no longer afford to do volunteer work and individuals simply do not have the time to donate to good causes. What everyone has forgotten is that it is easy to make a buck but a lot tougher to make a difference.
Financier George Soros and also Noreena Herz, the world’s foremost political economist, have cautioned the world about the demise of civil society and democracy in our quest for greater profit.

When turning my gaze to South Africa today I cannot but help to see – added to the vagaries of a free-market economy in the West – that, at an alarming rate, we are also destroying civil society here. Furthermore, there are two destructive cultures being fostered in our midst and nobody seems to be alarmed or concerned.

The first is a culture of unquestioned incompetence and non-delivery, which in itself, is becoming almost a kind of state religion. It is both a non-delivery of basic rights and human rights. And from this culture of incompetence and non-delivery grows a culture of dissatisfaction. It is a culture in which we see little tolerance, a great deal of aggression and unchecked greed. It is defined in the question: what is in it for me?

The tragedy is that today in South Africa we cannot expect any charitable acts and, least of all, volunteerism. The reality we have to face is that volunteerism - or lack thereof – is having an enormous impact on how our society progresses.
The Chinese have a proverb that states: “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”
You should remember that it is better to serve than to be served. It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said: “He who does nothing for others does nothing for himself,” to which we can add the voice of Martin Luther King who said: “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.”
Being a man or a woman is a matter of birth. Being a man or a woman who makes a difference is a matter of choice. No person was ever honoured for what he or she received. Honour is given by what he or she gives.
Winston Churchill said: “You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.”

Throughout your life, there is a voice only you can hear; a voice which mythologists label “the call”… a call to the value of your life. It is the choice of risk and individual bliss over the known and secure. You may choose not to hear your spirit. You may prefer to build a life within the compound, to avoid risk. It is possible to find happiness within a familiar box, a life of comfort and control.
Or you may choose to be open to new experiences, to leave the limits of your conditioning, to hear the call. Then you must act. If you never hear it, perhaps nothing is lost. If you hear it and ignore it, your life is lost.

And I don’t know what your individual destinies will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. It is true that we shall pass through this world but once.

I leave you with the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Carols at De Waal Park

Dear All,

Friends of De Waal Park are hosting a Carols by Candlelight evening in the park next Tuesday, 13th December, 2016 @ 7 pm and would love to have you, your family and friends join us. Carols will be led by the S A Police Band.
We’ll be selling candles for R10 each and carol sheets for R10 each.

Please bring something to sit on and a picnic / refreshments to enjoy.

As you’ll know from previous Carols by Candlelight events, we always select a charity to support. This year we’ll be supporting the S A CHILDREN’S HOME in Kotze Street, Gardens. The majority of the children are aged between 12 and 18. If possible, we would appreciate your kindly bringing a gift for the children. We’ll be grateful if you can wrap it and mark it BOY or GIRL, if it is gender specific (if not, no need to do so). We will, however, be just as grateful to receive unwrapped gifts to be distributed amongst the children. Suggested gifts are books (second hand are fine, as long as they’re in good condition), sweets, chocolates, chips, biscuits, balls or other sporting items, pens, Koki pens, notebooks, caps, T-shirts, slip-slops, towels, rucksacks – or whatever strikes your fancy. No battery operated items, please.

We wish all our members an enjoyable festive season, filled with peace, joy, safety, contentment and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017. Many thanks for your support during 2016 towards making our park the wonderful place it is.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Neish
Secretary
Friends of De Waal Park

VWS Open Day

Let’s support the volunteers from VWS who go out and make up the thin yellow line between fire and fynbos!

Newsflash from CBAR

The Newsflash below was sent by CBAR to their clients.

Dear valued clients,

The past few months have again shown a marked increase in criminal activity in our area of operation.

The residents in certain areas have even resorted to calling emergency meetings to try and find solutions to this increase in crime.
Devils Peak is currently experiencing the highest number of break-ins with the crowbar gangs also hitting houses in Sir George Grey Street and Buxton Avenue to mention a few in Oranjezicht.

The modus operandi is to break-in and be out within minutes before the armed response or SAPS arrive and these gangs are fully aware that they will trigger the alarms when forcing entry. They rely on the speed in which they commit the act of housebreaking, to prevent being caught.

Looking at the list of items that are regularly stolen, it is evident that electronics, jewelry and small safes are targeted.
Many people believe that a small safe the size of a shoebox, which is usually bolted into the cupboard in the main bedroom for ease of use, will protect its contents from theft. These criminals force open heavy doors and security gates, and I have seen countless homes where these small safes, which are held in place with 2 raw bolts have been pulled out the wall within a minute, if that.

So, investing in a bigger, heavier duty safe or using a safety deposit box for seldom used, but expensive jewelry, firearms and other documents usually kept in a small safe is a far better option. These small safes are generally not forced open on the premises, but removed “whole” and cut open at a later stage with an angle grinder.
Also noticeable is the amount of electronic goods such as IPads, phones, expensive cameras and jewelry left in draws or visible to anyone forcing their way onto the property.
One should try for a moment to imagine 4 intruders rushing through the front door (average number of persons in crowbar hits) and what they could find and remove in 2 – 3 minutes.

Having all the small electronic goods in plain sight and a small safe, predictably in the main bedroom cupboard make it easier and predictable for these crowbar gangs to have such “successful scores” when breaking in. Don’t make it easy. It is apparent that most of these gangs are well disciplined as far as time on the premises is concerned.

Car break-ins continue and there have been a few hijackings. A recent modus operandi was where a party or social event was underway, usually at a domestic premises. The criminals with the intent of stealing a particular motor vehicle they spot outside a property, then use the intercom to alert the residents that the car they intend to hijack is blocking another vehicle.
The owner of that particular vehicle then comes outside to move his / her car and is met with armed hijackers who then take the keys, and obviously the car.

Advise friends and family, especially those from overseas NOT, to leave belongings visible in vehicles parked on the street. It is one sure way of ruining a holiday.

The number of alarm signals received by our monitoring centre has nearly doubled. User error is the number one cause, followed by false alarms due to faulty sensors or foliage interfering with outdoor sensors. With the south easter due to start soon, please have all foliage trimmed that could cause outdoor detection to activate. Continuous activation’s from the same premises, hampers the effectiveness of the service by slowing it down due to unnecessary and repeated call-outs.

A concern for our staff at present is the uncontactability of certain clients where the premises are inaccessible due to high walls, electric fences or spikes. If the armed response officers are unable to access the property and there are no available key-holders to provide access, then only a perimeter check can be conducted. Please ensure that there is always a contactable key-holder on our system. Kindly furnish us with updated key-holders via fax on 0860 151516 or via email to customerservice@cbar.co.za. Various options to secure a key or remote are available. Contact sales@citybowlsecurity.co.za for these options.

Having your alarm serviced before the December rush, would also be advised. If there is a fault with one of the sensors, have a technician attend to it, rather than continuously bypassing that zone. If an insurer requests an alarm report from CBAR after a break-in has occurred, we are able to see on our system if a zone has been bypassed and are obligated to pass this information onto the insurer.

If items are stolen from a “bypassed area” the insurer may choose not to pay out for those items due to negligence on the part of the person insured. This is factual, based on our experience.

Please feel free to contact the CBAR offices should you wish to arrange for a technician on 0860 151515 or email colin@citybowlsecurity.co.za.

Also be advised that CBAR is a SAIDSA accredited (South African Intruder Detection Services Association) installer, and our technicians are fully qualified to work on almost all makes of alarm systems.

Updated WhatsApp Rules & Regulations

As our WhatsApp Block groups have expanded we have had to update our Rules and Regulations which are sent to every member before they are added to their Block Group.

Thank you for your interest in joining your OH Watch WhatsApp Block group. The aim of these groups is:

  • Get to know your neighbours and to look out for one another
  • Share all things relevant to the safety of the community
  • Share suspicious or unusual occurences with the community
  • Share relevant crime information with the community

These groups are an extension of OH Watch’s communication channels and as such, are also governed by our neighbourhood watch constitution and the mandate under which we work in conjunction with the relevant law enforcement departments. They are only open to signed up OH Watch members that agree to adhere to these Rules and Regulations. Crime related information is sensitive as it can impact on the apprehension on the criminal/s and their prosecution.

Please read through the list below so that you have an idea of what can and cannot be said, shared and broadcast on these groups. Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in your removal from these groups depending on the infringement. This decision will be taken by the OH Watch Admin or Executive Committee and will be final.

  • Content shared on these groups is for OH Watch members ONLY. Content from these groups may NOT be shared with any third party unless otherwise specified. Only Block group Admins may forward the information on to other Block groups.
  • These groups are NOT chat groups. They are in place to report suspicious behaviour / concerns/ crime related information and information relevant to our area.
  • We reserve the right to promote and share other activities and events in our area that have positive impact on crime and grime. This includes community building events, as a strong community is the best deterrent for crime.
  • Please message admins privately if you are asked to do so for feedback or if you have any concerns or suggestions.
  • We consider ourselves a community organisation and our aim is to uplift our area and support each other. Only constructive criticism is allowed. A respectful question to clarify a situation or a friendly, constructive suggestion go a long way. A debate on various viewpoints should be taken up off line.
  • Over many years we have built and strengthened our relationships to SAPS and other security service providers. We are extremely happy to have some members of SAPS on our groups. If you would like to take up matters with SAPS, please do so through our office or directly with SAPS.
  • NO jokes, religious comment, hate speech, racism, politics, vulgar language or off topic posts are allowed on these groups.
  • Absolutely no advertising will be permitted on these groups. This includes, but is not limited to: products, services, security, other Neighbourhood Watches and NPOs unless otherwise approved by Admins.
  • Admins reserve the right to remove members who won’t adhere to Admins’ instructions
  • These WhatsApp groups DO NOT replace SAPS or your armed response company as it is not an emergency channel. We would like to advise that SAPS or your armed response company be your FIRST point of call should a serious incident occur. These WhatsApp groups do not replace our radio network which is a far more effective and successful form of communication.

We look forward to keeping in touch with you!

Kind regards,

The OH Watch Exco & Admin team

Please download the OH Watch WhatsApp Rules & Regulations below:

160908_oh_watch_wa_rules_and_regulations.pdf

Vagrancy in our area

Vagrancy is a very sensitive subject, both with our members and the city, and unfortunately there is no easy solution to this problem. We receive a number of complaints from residents almost daily and though we do try to react to the problems it is even difficult for the city to deal with.

The city of Cape Town has about 700 “rough sleepers”, people who are forced or choose to sleep out in the open on the streets or in parks. Some have been on the streets for many years and choose to be there, while others end up in a situation that they cannot get out of.

The Metro has a high concentration of tourists and commuters, including a daily transient population of around 700,000 individuals, which makes it very appealing to vulnerable people looking for an informal revenue source. But the city cannot simply move people on because they are poor or vulnerable, and chasing them from one area to another does not work though the city does coordinate operations according to complaints received.

On Wednesday 13 July a number of areas were cleared and cleaned up and we were provided with the following information and the locations that were visited:

Feedback on Operation:

1) Operation was done on Wednesday 13th July 2016,as from 20h00 – 01h00.
2) Role-players, SAPS Cape Town Central Sector Managers , Law Enforcement By-Laws, Contracted Cleansing trucks with members , COCT Department of Social Development, CCID, GP&OK CID
3) Total of x 124 illegal structures were removed
4) A total of 164 Persons were warned by both SAPS & Law Enforcement.
5) COCT DSD approached x 104 persons of which x 14 accepted assistance with shelters.
6) Law Enforcement issued x 18 persons with 56 Notices for various offences
7) 35 small bank bags and 1 larger bag of dagga were found abandoned ( total weight 125g )

Locations that the operation focused on include:

CPUT Keizergracht - 4 Structures removed, 5 persons warned by LE & SAPS
District Six - 4 Structures removed, 11 persons warned by LE & SAPS
Hope Street - 6 Structures removed, 14 persons warned by LE & SAPS
Upper Orange Street - 6 Structures removed, 6 persons warned by LE & SAPS
De Waal Park - 15 Structures removed, 12 persons warned by LE & SAPS
Van Riebeeck Park - 6 Structures removed, 11 persons warned by LE & SAPS
The Kraal - 5 Structures removed, 1 persons warned by LE & SAPS
The Quarry - 29 Structures removed, 40 persons warned by LE & SAPS
Forgate Square - 11 Structures removed, 6 persons warned by LE & SAPS
Old Marine Drive - 12 Structures removed, 8 persons warned by LE & SAPS
N1 - Centre Island Incoming - 12 Structures removed, 8 persons warned by LE & SAPS
Trafalgar Storage - 21 structures removed, 39 person warned by LE & SAPS

Law Enforcement can get involved if by-laws are being infringed and SAPS can arrest in the case of repeated by-law infringements. Social Services can also get involved, though a small percentage of street people accept the offered assistance.

Give responsibly

Many of these people are destitute and face very sad hardships and we should have compassion for their situation, but please do not provide hand-outs or give money. This only makes our area more lucrative for people to come into the area and this makes it easier for a criminal element to blend in. Please consider donating to one of the cities shelters instead.

We can make a difference in our area and in other peoples lives if we give responsibly.

Mandela Day clean up

It was a wonderful early celebration of Mandela Day on Sunday 17 July as members of OH Watch joined forces with DPVwatch, the Friends of Van Riebeeck Park and a number of other partners to carry out a mass clean up operation of Van Riebeeck Park from Sidmouth Avenue to Capel Road. Here are some of the pics of the day.

67 Minutes for Mandela

OZCF Veggie Offer!

Our sister organisation, Oranjezicht City Farm (OZCF) has an exclusive offer to all OH Watch members. 

You qualify for one free vegetable box when you sign up for a one month trial subscription of OZCF’s weekly vegetable box subscription. To take on this offer you have to be a signed up and paid up member of OH Watch. Normal cost for the one month trial is R700, cost to OH Watch members only is R550.

OZCF is an Oranjezicht-based educational non-profit built around a small urban farm. As part of their mission to help other farmers, they work with Harvest of Hope and run a veg box subscription programme that sources vegetables from small farms in Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Philippi. Every Wednesday, subscribers get to collect their box of fresh local vegetables at OZCF on the corner of Upper Orange and Sidmouth. These boxes contain 10 items and are recommended for households of 3-4 people. Details are at ozcf.co.za/vegbox

If you are interested in starting a subscription, please send an email to vegbox@ozcf.co.za and they will respond with all the information you need to sign up. 

This is a fantastic offer, supporting local economy right here in our hood. 

OH Watch 7th AGM

The OH Watch Executive Committee is happy to invite you to our 7th Annual General Meeting to be held on Wednesday, 13th of April 2016 at 7pm.
OH Watch will be reviewing the last year and inform residents of our past, present and future activities. We will look at crime and grime in our area and how we as community can participate and collaborate to reduce criminal activities in the hood.

We will also have a presentation by Vumatel where they will explain how the roll out of fibre to our homes will affect us and how it will lift the community into the future of fast internet.

Please join us at 21 Vredehoek Avenue, Vredehoek at the Good Hope Seminary Junior School hall for the AGM and Vumatel presentations, after which snacks and drinks will be served.

Be a part of something positive!

We are putting together hampers for a raffle at our AGM. Who can assist us with sourcing prizes from our local businesses or donate prizes toward this fundraiser?

Please email us on contact@ohwatch.co.za to RSVP and let us know what prizes you may have! See you there!