GO GEORGE tackles vandalism with a vengeance

van·​dal·​ism  willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property

A Google search for the word vandalism floods the screen with topics such as:

  • What causes vandalism?
  • What is the impact of vandalism on the community?
  • How can we prevent vandalism?
  • How can we stop vandalism and graffiti? 

There are no clearcut answers, but community leaders world-wide keep digging for solutions to this pandemic of senselessly damaging property and breaking down infrastructure serving the community.  Closer to home, municipal property including the buses and facilities of the GO GEORGE bus service is the constant target of vandals stoning buses, defacing shelters with graffiti or breaking shelter panels designed to protect passengers from harsh weather.

Asking all of the above questions, GO GEORGE management seeks to engage the community at large, community leaders and organisations, role models and influencers to actively look into the local situation.

Community influencers join the battle

A panel of six well-known community influencers have already agreed to become “the face” of this anti-vandalism campaign and to put their weight behind the effort to involve the community, to identify causal factors and to seek solutions. They are Morné Pietersen (Manager, Eden FM), Lloyd Bosman (athlete), Moses Williams (actor and comedian), Lizette da Silva (George Herald editor), Peter Jaftha (Manager, Heartbeat FM) and Zane Kirchner, former Springbok rugby player and assistant coach of the SWD Eagles.  Posters with personal messages from each of these campaign ambassadors have been put up all over town.

Following an introductory meeting with them at the GIPTN offices last week, GO GEORGE Manager James Robb was thrilled with the input and ideas bandied about. “The value and insight these participants bring to the table are immensely important,” he said. “Their approach to the issue is fresh and creative. They reach members and sectors of the community that we on our own could never do, so there will definitely be an ongoing effort to involve more ambassadors from all communities to expand the reach and impact of the campaign.”

Multi-pronged approach needed

The lack of understanding of the value of property came up during the discussion, as well as the lack of respect. “If someone does not have respect for a bus stop that was provided for their community’s convenience, how will they ever have respect for other people and authority figures?” asked Lizette da Silva. “We could ask schools, for instance, to take ownership of nearby bus stops, at the same time teaching children respect, and how to take responsibility for the maintenance of facilities provided to them with hard-earned taxpayers’ money,” she said.

Peter Jaftha agreed with the concept of involving communities in their direct vicinity. “People in smaller communities know one another and the challenges faced in their area and will be more likely to get involved to solve a problem that is downgrading their community and its facilities,” he said.

Zane Kirchner could not attend the first think tank due to work commitments but confirmed his allegiance with the campaign. “I am looking forward to helping find solutions and getting the communities of which I am part involved in prevention of vandalism, as well as ways to stop it,” he said.

Morné Pietersen noted that many vandals fall outside formal structures such as schools, which makes it difficult to reach them and change their attitude. “Although there is a crucial educational component to the approach taken, we’ll also have to partner with and empower neighbourhood watches to become our community partners in prevention as well as apprehension of criminals. They are the eyes watching out for clandestine activities after dark, when the perpetrators are at their most active.”

This point was reiterated by Lloyd Bosman who is a teacher and has experience of the value of electronic monitoring via CCTV cameras at schools in terms of evidence, as well as deterring perpetrators.

Moses Williams as entertainer and active social media content creator gave input regarding the use of platforms such as TikTok to reach the youth. He has previously been involved in scriptwriting for anti-vandalism skits performed at schools by the GO GEORGE communication champions and will continue to support efforts involving the performing arts, such as the current rap competition for high schools.

Reward for useful information

George Municipality has recently approved a reward of R2 500 to persons providing information that leads to the successful conviction of vandals damaging GO GEORGE property and infrastructure. Informants should phone the GO GEORGE Call Centre immediately on 0800 044 044 when they witness acts of vandalism in process. Ideally, law enforcement agents should catch the vandals in the act, but photographic evidence will be very useful too.

Any individuals or organisations who are willing to get involved or share advice on addressing vandalism are invited to leave a message at the Call Centre or send an email to info@gogeorge.org.za.

CAPTIONS: The first six ambassadors of the GO GEORGE anti-vandalism campaign had an introductory meeting with the campaign organisers last week to give input and exchange ideas to curb vandalism of buses and infrastructure. From left are Moses Williams (actor and comedian), Lizette da Silva (George Herald editor), Lloyd Bosman (athlete), Alet van Tonder (GO GEORGE communications team), Peter Jaftha (Manager, Heartbeat FM), James Robb (GO GEORGE Manager), Charmaine Pretorius (GO GEORGE communications team) and Morné Pietersen (Manager, Eden FM). Zane Kirchner, former Springbok rugby player and assistant coach of the SWD Eagles, is also a member of the panel but could not attend the meeting.

POSTERS:

Posters with the six anti-vandalism campaign ambassadors can now be seen all over town, expressing their views regarding vandalism of GO GEORGE buses and infrastructure.


GO GEORGE pak vandalisme met mening

van·​da·l​is·me  opsetlike of kwaadwillige vernietiging of beskadiging van openbare of private eiendom

‘n Google-soektog na die woord vandalisme vul die skerm met onderwerpe soos:

  • Wat veroorsaak vandalisme?
  • Wat is die impak van vandalisme op die gemeenskap?
  • Hoe kan ons vandalisme voorkom?
  • Hoe kan ons vandalisme en graffiti stop?

Daar is geen duidelike antwoorde nie, maar gemeenskapsleiers wêreldwyd hou aan grawe vir oplossings vir hierdie pandemie van sinnelose beskadiging van eiendom en die afbreek van infrastruktuur wat die gemeenskap bedien.  Op eie bodem is munisipale eiendom, insluitend die busse en fasiliteite van die GO GEORGE-busdiens, die konstante teiken van vandale wat busse met klippe bestook, busskuilings met graffiti ontsier of skuilingpanele wat ontwerp is om passasiers teen gure weer te beskerm, breek.

Deur al bogenoemde vrae te vra, poog die GO GEORGE-bestuurspan om die gemeenskap in geheel, gemeenskapsleiers en -organisasies, rolmodelle en beïnvloeders te betrek om aktief na die plaaslike situasie te kyk.

Gemeenskapsbeïnvloeders sluit aan by die stryd

‘n Paneel van ses bekende gemeenskapsbeïnvloeders het reeds ingestem om “die gesig” van hierdie anti-vandalisme-veldtog te word en hul gewig in te gooi by die poging om die gemeenskap te betrek, oorsaaklike faktore te identifiseer en oplossings te soek. Hulle is Morné Pietersen (bestuurder, Eden FM), Lloyd Bosman (atleet), Moses Williams (akteur en komediant), Lizette da Silva (George Herald-redakteur), Peter Jaftha (bestuurder, Heartbeat FM) en Zane Kirchner, voormalige Springbokrugbyspeler en hulpafrigter van die SWD-Arende.  Plakkate met persoonlike boodskappe van elk van hierdie veldtogambassadeurs is regoor die dorp opgerig.

Ná ‘n inleidende vergadering met die span by die GIPTN-kantore verlede week, is GO GEORGE-bestuurder, James Robb, opgewonde oor die insette en idees wat gewissel is. “Die waarde en insig wat hierdie deelnemers tafel toe bring, is geweldig belangrik,” sê hy. “Hul benadering tot die kwessie is vars en kreatief. Hulle bereik lede en sektore van die gemeenskap wat ons op ons eie nooit sal kan doen nie, so daar sal beslis ‘n deurlopende poging wees om meer ambassadeurs uit alle gemeenskappe te betrek om die reikwydte en impak van die veldtog uit te brei.”

Veelvoudige benadering nodig

Die gebrek aan begrip van die waarde van eiendom is tydens die bespreking geopper, asook die gebrek aan respek. “As iemand nie respek het vir ‘n bushalte wat vir hul gemeenskap se gerief voorsien is nie, hoe sal hulle ooit respek vir ander mense en gesagsfigure hê?” het Lizette da Silva gevra. “Ons kan skole byvoorbeeld vra om eienaarskap van nabygeleë bushaltes te neem, terwyl kinders in die proses geleer word om respek te hê vir fasiliteite wat aan hulle voorsien word met swaarverdiende belastingbetalersgeld, en hoe om verantwoordelikheid te neem vir die instandhouding daarvan.”

Peter Jaftha het saamgestem met die konsep om gemeenskappe in hul direkte omgewing te betrek: “Mense in kleiner gemeenskappe ken mekaar en die uitdagings wat in hul gebied in die gesig gestaar word en sal meer geneig wees om betrokke te raak om ‘n probleem op te los wat hul gemeenskap en sy fasiliteite afgradeer.”

Zane Kirchner kon weens werksverpligtinge nie die eerste dinkskrum bywoon nie, maar het sy verbintenis met die veldtog bevestig. “Ek sien uit daarna om oplossings te help vind en die gemeenskappe waarvan ek deel is betrokke te kry by die voorkoming van vandalisme, asook maniere om dit stop te sit,” het hy gesê.

Morné Pietersen het opgemerk dat baie vandale buite formele strukture soos skole val, wat dit moeilik maak om hulle te bereik en hul houding te verander. “Hoewel daar ‘n belangrike opvoedkundige komponent is in die benadering wat gevolg word, sal ons ook met buurtwagte moet saamwerk en hulle bemagtig om ons gemeenskapsvennote te word in voorkoming van vandalisme sowel as die aankeer van misdadigers. Hulle is die mense wat uitkyk vir klandestiene bedrywighede ná donker, wanneer die oortreders op hul aktiefste is.”

Hierdie punt is ondersteun deur Lloyd Bosman wat ‘n onderwyser is en ervaring het van die waarde van elektroniese monitering via CCTV-kameras by skole, ten opsigte van bewyse, asook om oortreders af te skrik.

Moses Williams as vermaaklikheidster en aktiewe sosiale media-inhoudskepper het insette gelewer oor die gebruik van platforms soos TikTok om die jeug te bereik. Hy was voorheen betrokke by die skryf van ’n draaiboek vir anti-vandalisme-sketse wat deur die GO GEORGE-passasiersdiensbeamptes by skole opgevoer word en sal steeds bystand verleen met aktiwiteite wat die uitvoerende kunste betrek, soos die huidige kletsrymkompetisie vir hoërskole.

Beloning vir nuttige inligting

George-munisipaliteit het onlangs ‘n beloning van R2 500 goedgekeur aan persone wat inligting verskaf wat lei tot die suksesvolle skuldigbevinding van vandale wat GO GEORGE-eiendom en -infrastruktuur beskadig. Informante moet die GO GEORGE-inbelsentrum onmiddellik by 0800 044 044 skakel wanneer hulle vandalistiese bedrywighede sien. Ideaal gesproke moet wetstoepassingsagente die vandale op heterdaad betrap, maar fotobewyse sal ook baie nuttig wees.

Enige individu of organisasie wat bereid is om betrokke te raak of advies oor die aanspreek van vandalisme te deel, word uitgenooi om ‘n boodskap by die Inbelsentrum te laat of ‘n e-pos aan info@gogeorge.org.za te stuur.

ONDERSKRIFTE: Die eerste ses ambassadeurs van die GO GEORGE-anti-vandalisme-veldtog het verlede week ‘n inleidende vergadering met die veldtogorganiseerders bygewoon om insette te lewer en idees uit te ruil om vandalisme van busse en infrastruktuur te bekamp. Van links is Moses Williams (akteur en komediant), Lizette da Silva (George Herald-redakteur), Lloyd Bosman (atleet), Alet van Tonder (GO GEORGE-kommunikasiespan), Peter Jaftha (bestuurder, Heartbeat FM), James Robb (GO GEORGE-bestuurder), Charmaine Pretorius (GO GEORGE-kommunikasiespan) en Morné Pietersen (bestuurder, Eden FM). Zane Kirchner, voormalige Springbokrugbyspeler en hulpafrigter van die SWD-Arende, is ook ‘n lid van die paneel, maar kon nie die vergadering bywoon nie.

PLAKKATE: Plakkate met die ses anti-vandalisme-veldtogambassadeurs wat hul sienings oor vandalisme van GO GEORGE-busse en infrastruktuur oordra, is nou oral in die dorp te sien.

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