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Dalpark Ext 1 residents reduce crime in their neighborhood

Residents work together to ensure the suburb’s safety and attractive appearance.

In 1999, Dalpark Ext 1 established a residents’ association, and in 2000, they enclosed the neighbourhood to curb crime.

The year before they did this, there were reportedly 333 incidents, including hijackings, house robberies and other violent crimes.

The year after the fences and boom gates went up, crime reduced to just 18 incidents for the entire year. Since then, the community has worked hard to keep crime low in the area, with much success.

The chairperson of the association, Jan van Tonder, said they constantly work together to ensure the safety of the neighbourhood and maintain its beauty and pride.

Jan van Tonder (back) and Bart Zaayman with the firefighting trailer.

“It used to be that many hijackings took place here, but now, it is all low-level crime,’ said Bart Zaayman, a member of the residents association.

In recent years, the community pitched in to install electrical boom gates with CCTV monitoring, appoint guards and patrollers from CP Protection, install a generator for the guardhouse in case of load-shedding and solar flood lights above the crossing at the entrance to curb cable theft from the traffic lights.

A DJI Mavic drone was acquired. Christo Brits from CP Protection started piloting it because he is licensed to do so, aiming to help spot criminals in the veld around the neighbourhood’s perimeter at night.

“The criminals often hide in the long grass, and the drone has thermal imaging, allowing us to see where they are hiding so they can be arrested,” Zaayman explained.

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In 1994, a house in the neighbourhood caught fire and burnt down completely because the fire department reportedly took about an hour to get to the scene, so the community raised funds to build a firefighting trailer.

Since then, this trailer stopped four house fires.

When service delivery started falling behind, the residents raised funds again, and in 2023, acquired a tractor with a slasher to cut the grass in the parks, on the sidewalks and around the perimeter so criminals had nowhere to hide.

Seven drivers cut the grass frequently, and, recently, a drum with a pump was also acquired to spray poison on the weeds in the neighbourhood.

Jan van Tonder on the tractor used to cut the grass in the neighbourhood.

Every street enclosed in the area has a WhatsApp group, and the entire suburb has one, too. This way, everyone can stay abreast of things going on in the area and remain vigilant for crime.

The association even put up ‘No littering’ signs, which reduced littering, and built a kennel at the guard house to keep wandering pets in when they get out for the owners to collect.

“We even fix our own potholes,” said Zaayman.

“Much of the time, you will see new people buying in the area because it is neat, safe and well-maintained, but many of these new buyers don’t realise it is that way because of the residents.

“They want all the benefits of living here without contributing to the things that make this neighbourhood what it is.

“We saw problems and didn’t sit back and expect the government to solve them. We just did it ourselves with the help of the community.”

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