Weilbach explained that for many years car guards were seen as an irritation and a crime contributor. “The relationship between the car guards and the police was always contentious and adversarial,” said Weilbach. Brooklyn SAPS wanted to change this by adopting a new tolerant and social crime prevention approach, said Weilbach. While many of the car guards have criminal records for drug, property, and contact related crimes, Weilbach said that the programme is also aimed at rehabilitating them to a law-abiding life: “For the moment the car guards are excited and indicated that they are willing to cooperate with the police and to assist in crime prevention initiatives.”

The project is already in its fourth week, with a database of car guards having been created and weekly meetings and training sessions scheduled. Weilbach explained, “A skills audit will be conducted and students from [UP] will give further training to empower the car guards.” Weilbach said that since the programme started, there has already been a decline in vehicle-related crimes in the Hatfield area. If the pilot project in Hatfield is successful, it is expected to be extended to other areas.

 

Photo: Tshepo Kenneth Moagi