IN a bid to safeguard the area’s tourists, Sodwana Bay community members are joining hands to eradicate crime.
Crime in the area has escalated over the last two years from petty thefts to violent attacks by gun– and knife-wielding criminal gangs, culminating in the shooting of a Cape Town tourist a little over a week ago.
‘Enough is enough,’ said community members who, in the apparent absence of effective policing, have decided to be proactive and tackle the issue from within.
The first step is the implementation of monthly Community Police Forum (CPF) meetings involving community members, police officers and other stakeholders.
At the first meeting, the seriousness of Sodwana Bay’s crime was acknowledged by all, as well as the urgency with which criminal activities must be eradicated.
Community members are gravely concerned about the lack of visible policing in Sodwana Bay, which is an international tourist destination.
‘Without tourists, our businesses will suffer tremendously,’ said community members.While Lieutenant-Colonel Zungu, Station Commander at Mbazwana SAPS, promised to revitalise sector policing in Sodwana Bay, community members plan to employ the services of a private security company for added protection.
‘We need only 50 people to sign up and the security company will provide a patrol vehicle for the area as well as panic buttons for all members,’ said one of the people spearheading the crime prevention campaign.
Additionally, pamphlets will be distributed to tourists, encouraging them to be vigilant.
‘We don’t want to scare tourists away but we want them to be safe in our town and to know who to contact if something does happen,’ said the community.
The majority of Sodwana Bay’s crime victims are foreign tourists who fail to open dockets and obtain case numbers because they are unable to return to the country for court hearings.
This does not reflect the true nature of crime in the area which, in turn, means Sodwana Bay does not see an increased police presence to combat the crime.
Foreign visitors who fall victim to crime will now be assisted with this by community members.
‘We want the public to know that we acknowledge the crime in Sodwana and are proactively trying to eliminate it,’ concluded the community spokesperson.
While the town does not fall within the boundaries of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, at times the park’s perimeters are unclear as roads, used as thoroughfares by the general public, weave in and out of the park.
As an added measure, crime victims are urged to report all crimes in the area to iSimangaliso’s emergency hotline, 082 7977944.