By Melodie Veldhuizen
WhatsApp groups are part of our our everyday life. It is an easy way of reaching a lot of people within seconds. The main purpose of WhatsApp community groups is to be of service to the members of a smaller community, for instance a suburb or neighbourhood, or even a street, by, for example, trying to secure the safety of the residents, but also to inform them about matters of common interest.
There are two types of community groups:
- SOS crime information groups
The sole purpose of these groups is to try and secure the safety of the members of the commity.
Characteristics, rules and benefits
- Only crime- and security-related and life-threatening matters or suspicious activities of vehicles or individuals in the neighbourhood that could possibly pose a danger to the residents may be posted here.
- Only admin people may add members and they have the right to remove from the group people who do not adhere to the rules and instructions.
- These groups include community policing forums (CPFs) as well as security companies and members of the SAPS but do not replace the SAPS or security companies.
- Post a message on this group if you notice something suspicious in the neighbourhood or are feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, are experiencing an emergency or a crisis and urgently need assistance (such as housbreaking or attempted housebraking, vehicle hijackings, hit-and-run situations, smash-and-grab cases, accidents).
- In order to identify and trace a suspicious person or vehicle quickly, try to provide as much information as possible: the address and/or street, a description of the vehicle (make, colour, registration number, number of occupants) and suspects (clothing, backpacks or carrier bags).
- Crime-related information is sensitive because it could impact on the apprehension of the criminal(s) and their prosecution and the information must therefore be handled circumspectly. The information is therefore intended only for the members of the community concerned and may not be shared with other people or with other groups, unless otherwise specified.
- Remember, members of the community and residents are only the eyes and ears for reporting potential dangerous situations. Under no circumstances must you take the law into your own hands and confront “criminals”.
- The following posts are not allowed:
- domestic violence or personal confrontations (contact the SAPS)
- personal conversations or remarks about posts, unless it can contribute to the solving of a problem
- jokes, religious comments, hatespeech, racism, politics and vulgar language
- nice messages and pictures or videos
- Community care groups
The main purpose of these groups is to create community consciousness and a feeling of solidarity, to improve the neighbourhood and support each other, and to provide information for and about to the community.
Characteristics, rules and benefits
- The residents themselves mostly act as admin people and may add new members by request.
The following posts are allowed:
- information to alert the residents and the SOS group to new threats in the area, such as the theft of copper wire, water pipes, cables and gate motors
- information on SOS groups as well as crime reports because it helps residents to act preventively
- councillor and ward information and other important information that could impact residents, such as water and electricity interruptions, illegal refuse dumping
- lost and found (such as pets)
- advertisements in many cases (businesses and personal)
- activities and events in the community that could have a positive influence on the community and promote social gatherings, such as church, school and other community activities
- One of the biggest benefits of such a group, particularly for newcomers but also for old residents who suddenly need a specific service, item or product, is to get answers to questions such as: Where can I …? or Where can I get …? Or Where does one buy …?
Golden rules for all groups
- Be respectful and courteous.
- Keep in mind that there are people of all ages on the groups, including children.
- Include everything in one message – do not spread the information over a number of WhatsApps.
- Avoid one-on-one conversations in the group. If the conversation becomes too personal, switch to private messaging.
- Do not post messages between 21:00 and 07:00, except in the case of emergencies.
- Avoid “thank you” messages. If you want to thank somebody, do so in a private message.
- Should anybody ask a question of a personal nature (like advice or information), do not react if somebody else has already replied, or send a private message.
- Do not use groups as platforms for political or religious opinions, fighting, to humiliate a person, to utter grievances, for emotionally charged opinions, to stir up fear, or to spread fake news. If you are not sure that something is fake news, post it and request confirmation (if it is fake news, remove it and warn other people).
- If you’re not sure whether you should post something, ask the following questions: Is it applicable? Is it essential? Is it a good time to post the message?
Kruin Community. https://communityhub.city/kruin/whatsapp-community/
My Ferndale. https://myferndale.co.za/whatsapp-rules-regulations/
Web Africa. https://www.webafrica.co.za/blog/general-knowledge/golden-rules-whatsapp-groups/
LS3CPSF Crime Info MMPark (WhatsApp-groep)