By Dr Eugene Brink
The recent unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng once again shed the spotlight on the issue of safety and, more specifically, personal safety.
Many people are, with reason, afraid that this can flare up again and that residential areas and property could be the next target. A natural outcome after the unrest is that general crime, within the existing context of among others high unemployment and opportunism, can increase still further.
The police also offer scant hope and in the main civilians themselves had to stand up against instigators and looters. This succeeded in turning the tide – thank to firearms and quick and brave action. For the future it is important that all of us, as individuals and in community context, do as much as possible to make our property and lives as protected and safe as possible.
How do we do this?
Marnus Kamfer, legal and risk manager at AfriForum’s community safety division, says that, firstly, we have to arm ourselves withing the framework of the law. “Carry your firearm on your person, know how to use it effectively and make sure you know when to do so. Practise, practise, practise.
“Familiarise your family with firearms. Let them go and practise with you from time to time and make sure they are at ease with them, respect them and know when to use them. Compile a contingency plan and practise scenarios with your family.”
He recommends that, in general, we have to be more prepared. “Be aware of what goes on around you at any given time. Practise to be more alert. A cell phone interferes with this exercise! Be aware thereof and encourage your family to follow your example in this regard. Observation exercises in the car can even serve as a fun game that offers entertainment on the road and increases your preparedness at the same time.”
To boost prevention, join a neighbourhood watch. “This enhances your feeling for community safety and boosts your own safety and that of your family and your community at the same time,” says Kamfer.
Thomas van Dalen, national training manager at AfriForum Community Safety, agrees and recommends that you also ensure that the fence around your home is also serviceable. “Inspect it regularly for possible holes. Keep it free of shrubs and bushes in which criminals can hide. If trees are planted close to the fence, no branches should hang over your fence.
“Make use of an electronic motor gate. When approaching the gate, make sure there aren’t any suspicious persons lurking close to your house before opening the gate. Open the gate when some distance away from it, so that you can drive in directly when you arrive at the gate.”
Van Dalen furthermore states that infrared laser beams outside the house to activate the alarm is better than a system inside your home. “See to it that the alarm system is connected to a security company with a reaction facility. Connect bright lights to your alarm system that will switch on as soon as the alarm is activated. The lights should light up your home’s yard, and not your home.”
Safety expert and head of community safety at Safe Citizen, Ian Cameron, writes on Firearms.co.za that in the aftermath of the unrest, law-abiding citizens should establish and promote permanent legal community structures to pave the way for safer communities. He states bluntly that the police are not able to restore law and order and gives various hints to the public to ensure their safety.
Firstly, make sure you have the necessary emergency numbers at hand, for example your local safety structures such as neighbourhood and farm watches, as well as community policing forums (CPFs). Join them and stay in regular contact with your neighbours. If you own a firearm, carry it on you and make sure you comply with all the legal requirements. Avoid unnecessary travel and if you have to do so, avoid places with debris, obstacles and burning structures.
Ian Cameron, 16 July 2021, “How to safeguard your community and family in South Africa”, https://firearms.co.za/opinion/how-to-safeguard-your-community-and-family-in-south-africa/?fbclid=IwAR0OVo4dFr5eORCzGDPaUZqv90ZxICVyw324w4DRsK7IKcW09DCFwlUC-zw.
Ian Cameron, 16 July 2021, “Community Mobilisation is Key to Safe Citizens”, https://firearms.co.za/press-release/community-mobilisation-is-key-to-safe-citizens/?fbclid=IwAR3baBQpCBa8lbIqJDjrLzjthUxwvnINUp121P6o711LE-L75bV5WDcRdQg.