With crime an ever-present threat and on the rise in South Africa, we give you our top tips for staying safe in your neighbourhoods.
Cape Town ranked as the South African city with the highest rates of murder, robbery and non-violent property-related crimes in a list that includes Joburg, eThekwini, Ekurhuleni, City of Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay, Mangaung, Buffalo City and Msunduzi. Whilst Johannesburg may have the second-lowest recorded rate of murder, it has much higher levels of assault and robbery (see here to read more about the South African Cities Network’s State of Urban Safety in South Africa Report 2018/2019).
At the core of OurHood is the need and passion to create safer neighbourhoods. We are committed to creating safer and better-connected neighbourhoods, and that is why we urge community members to work together and look out for one another. Whilst every neighbourhood and its inhabitants are unique, we all play an important role in helping to keep our communities safe. We take you through the five ways OurHood fosters safer neighbourhoods, the five rules for staying safe on OurHood, and the five rules for keeping safe in your community.
How does OurHood foster safer neighbourhoods?
- Strong Communities:
We believe that connecting neighbours creates stronger communities. In turn, the stronger the community, the safer it becomes and the better chance it has for fighting crime.
- Crime Alerts:
Our Crime and Safety section immediately sends a notification and email when a user posts an alert or reports a crime which has taken place in the neighbourhood. Sharing information can be pivotal in helping someone in urgent need. Please note that sharing info about a crime and safety nature must be taken extremely seriously and based on useful, relevant and, where possible, factual evidence.
- Updates from Community Partners:
Our partners are the driving force to creating a better connected and safer neighbourhood. A strong engaged partner is often the neighbourhood champion where residents can ask questions and receive information about the community. Members will get regular updates on news from partners such as Rate Payer Associations, Neighbourhood Watches or Ward Councillors.
- Emergency Contact Numbers:
We provide a list of the emergency contact numbers specific to your neighbourhood so that they are always at your fingertips in the case of an emergency.
- Verification and Anonymity:
OurHood takes safety and privacy very seriously. In order to prevent ‘trolls’ or fake-users accessing sensitive information, we have developed a verification process to ensure that all members actually live where they say they do. Not only do you have to register with your email, real name and address to join, but you also have to prove that you live in the neighbourhood by a variety of methods. Your address and email will remain hidden from other neighbours in your community unless you choose to share by customising your settings.
How to stay safe on OurHood:
- Be careful about sharing your personal information
While users in your neighbourhood have been verified, be very careful about sharing personal information about yourself, home and family. If you wouldn’t shout it out in your street, don’t post it on social networks.
- Report any harassment, harmful behaviour or offensive content
You are able to anonymously block, flag and report any post, comment or user. Make use of these features to prevent any harassment or offensive content. OurHood or the community partner in your neighbourhood will contact any content or user that is reported and flagged.
- Be careful when meeting people
OurHood encourages active citizenry and community involvement but urges all users to be careful when meeting people offline. Only agree to meet a neighbour in person if you trust them completely. If you have to meet up alone, always let someone know where you are and who you are with.
- If harassment goes offline, report it to the police immediately.
If someone on OurHood or any social network harasses you in real life, report it to the police immediately. Don’t assume it will stop, don’t take any chances.
How to keep safe in your neighbourhood:
- Know your neighbours:
Developing good relations with your neighbours can help you to be aware of who is in your neighbourhood and what could be suspicious. Do not be afraid to get in contact with them if you need their help, or if you see anything out of the ordinary going on around their home.
- Install a security system.
- Create a key contacts list
Have a list of relevant numbers so you can contact the right person in a crisis. OurHood has a list of numbers specific to your community. Also make sure younger children know their parents’ names, address and phone number so they know who to call in case of an emergency.
- Be internet savvy
Whilst the internet is a wonderful tool, it is important to remain aware of its risks. Go private online, be careful about the information you choose to share, and never give out any personal information.
- Report, report, report
If you ever see anything suspicious, let someone in your community know, whether that is via OurHood or another communication platform.It is also essential that all crimes, no matter how petty, are reported to the police.
Ps. You may have noticed we did not put a rule number five for staying safe on OurHood, and that is because we like to save the best for last (and also to end on a somewhat happier note). So here it is. Rule number five: always spread good news in your hood to uplift the local community. If you can make just one person smile, then that’s time well spent to us! You see OurHood isn’t just for bad news… If you do have any good news regarding your neighbourhood, take a photo and let us know via Instagram or Facebook.
The OurHood Team 🙂
Connecting Neighbours, Strengthening Communities