It began with a single good Samaritan. Now, about 20 men and women have grouped together and are battling the scourge of crime in Braamfischerville in Soweto.
Every day, the patrollers wait, ready to receive reports of criminal activity on the notorious streets of the Soweto kasi.
They have responded to reports of such serious crimes as murder, rape, armed robberies, and even attacks on foreign spaza shop owners.
And the shop owners have even joined forces with the patrollers, providing money to buy 20 reflector jackets, 15 masks, and seven torches used to help patrol at night in the Braamfischerville block sector one.
The leader of the group and a Public Safety officer, Joel Mabaso, said his home has become a place where people come even at night to report crime.
“Some come to me soaked in blood. Raped women knock on my door to be escorted to the police station,” said Mabaso.
“It was not easy for me by myself so I asked people, especially men who came up with plans to patrol the streets.”
Mabaso, known as Mjay, said the group members didn’t have the means to provide their own resources, and asked for donations from other members of the community.
“We were blessed that our brothers who run spaza shops stepped up and donated money that helped us to buy reflectors,” he said.
Mabaso said the group need warm jackets and boots as most of their jobs happen at night when criminals target their victims.
“We are asking for intervention from the police, community and public safety, and other arms of government to help us.”
He said the community of Braamfischerville is dealing with Covid-19, but are also combating another dangerous epidemic: crime.
Hlengiwe Ngcobo said his family were made the victims of a crime, when thugs – famously known as the CV gang – stole their TV.
The crooks were able to commit the burglary because the family were tricked to go and print their CVs with the false promise of a job.
“I want to be part of the team that is fighting these tsotsis,” said Hlengiwe.
“Dobsonville police station is far. We need a police station in our area,” said Karabo Liwarawara.
“We need professional counsellors to help the community with many traumatising incidents residents face daily.”