Residents urged to revive neighbourhood watch committees

Bulawayo Residents Association (BURA) has urged residents in the city to revive neighbourhood watch committees to tackle the increase in house break-ins.

This follows complaints by Emganwini and Nketa residents to the effect that they were disturbed by house break-ins, a development which has seen many people lose their valuables including cash.

At one house in Emganwini thieves removed burglar bars from one of the rooms and gained entry into the house during the early hours of Sunday before escaping with cash.

Thieves are also breaking car windows overnight looking for valuables.

Some break-ins happen during the day especially on Sundays when most people would have gone to church.

Neighbourhood watch refers to policing by civilians and this is necessary where the police force is hit by manpower challenges.

Working closely with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the neighbourhood watch committees, known as “ongxoza” in some circles were once vibrant in the early 2000s but later disintegrated with the deteriorating economy.

“In light of the rampant house break-ins especially in high-density areas, we encourage Bulawayo residents to revive their neighbourhood watch committees to do patrols both during the day and night because some of these break-ins take place during the day,” BURA chairperson, Winos Dube, told CITE.

“Things are not well in our country; the government must do something to improve people’s lives.”

Dube said while some suburbs still have neighbourhood watch committees, they are largely composed of the elderly who cannot do much to fight thieves, especially at night.

“Youngsters cannot be trusted with such a responsibility since it is some of them who are involved in these house break-ins,” bemoaned Dube.

Ward 26 councillor, Norman Hlabano, whose jurisdiction covers Emganwini suburb, also said the revival of neighbourhood watch committees could go a long in addressing the challenge of thieves.                                                                                                                           

“I encourage residents to reorganise themselves into groups and form neighbourhood watch committees since the police may not be having enough manpower to do patrols,” said Hlabano.

In some suburbs, residents make monthly contributions that go towards the payment of neighbourhood watch members while in other areas people take turns to guard one another’s property overnight.

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