With communities still reeling from the devastation of the last few days of violence and looting in many areas across our country, it is sometimes difficult not to feel despondent and afraid for our future when we are overwhelmed by the barrage of coverage in the media and on the social channels.
Charnel Hattingh, Head of Marketing and Communications at Fidelity ADT says it has been an extremely tough couple of days for those on the ground trying to stabilise the situation. ‘What has however really stood out for us, particularly in the last two days, is the incredible strength of communities standing together, not only to protect their own, but also to lend assistance to other communities desperately in need. Countless volunteer and support groups are springing up to help clean up and assist those in need.”
Safety and security definitely starts at home, and this week more than ever, we have seen how effective communities can be if they stand together. There are so many examples like the staff at Alberton Netcare singing a song of hope or the taxi drivers in Brits protecting their shops and centres; volunteers staying up all night to protect their community in Midrand and the list goes on and on.
“Although borne out of a crisis, these well co-ordinated community safety efforts allow the police and other law enforcement agencies to better deploy their resources in a way that protects larger areas. It boils down to a teamwork approach to driving crime out of suburbs,” says Charnel Hattingh, Head of Marketing and Communications at Fidelity ADT.
“The best start is to make sure you know everyone in your immediate vicinity and have their contact details. You can look out for one another, and you are best placed to immediately see if anything out of the ordinary is happening. If something seems to be amiss, raise the alarm. At a time like this it may not only be a security crisis but a medical crisis. The disruption has unfortunately placed medical supplies at risk throughout SA. Food shortages could also be an issue for some families,” says Hattingh.
“We strongly advise you take note of any potential safety issues and raise it with your neighbours. This includes everything from broken fences, to open gates, to valuable items left unattended. The same goes for children or vulnerable members of your community – by simply caring for their safety, you can already make a difference.”
A practical way of staying in touch with neighbours, she adds, is to consider forming WhatsApp groups for every street. This can be a quick and effective way of sharing safety related information with neighbours and most of these groups have private security representation to speed up response in the case of an emergency. Hattingh also warns against the sharing of unverified information or fake news on any community platforms or social media pages. “There has been so much fake news or unverified news which, if shared, creates unnecessary panic.”
“Make sure everyone in your household – and in your street – receives the correct contact details for all police, law enforcement and security partners in your area. In case of any emergency, please ensure that everyone knows exactly who to call so that valuable time is not wasted,” concludes Hattingh.