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Spotlight: Deon Makiti

Updated: Sep 13, 2023


Welcome to the first blog post of the neighborhood watch! The purpose of this blog is to share stories of the volunteers of Neighborhood Watch who work tirelessly to make our community safer. We are hoping that by spotlighting our members, people will recognize the depth of these people and the intricacies of their lives. These unpaid volunteers gain little to no recognition, so the purpose of our blog is to give ourselves a voice! A voice to share stories, experiences- whether good or bad- that shape the community. The neighborhood watch, unaffiliated with the government, is there to protect you and serve the community at no cost.

The first blog post is a spotlight on Deon Makiti, the deputy chairperson of the Igunya Neighborhood Watch Groups Federation. A few weeks ago, we were privileged enough to be able to speak with him and ask about his experience in neighborhood watch, in preparation for the launch of a new campaign to fundraise for offices (shipping containers).

Deon says: My name is Deon Makiti, I am a leader of the Igunya Neighborhood Watch Groups Federation, which is basically a forum that tries to bring all the neighborhood watches [together]. …But um, we’ve always tried to put ourselves out there,...We always wanted to tell a different story that we are fighting crime so that if somebody wants to come in and help our community”.

Deon, as deputy chair of the neighborhood watch, makes it his responsibility to keep track of, organize, and support the volunteers. However, in recent years the neighborhood watch has become quite a large force, and Deon is the driving force in uniting all the various Neighborhood Watch groups in the area of Gugulethu and Nyanga. We, as a group, want to share the story of how he got involved in the neighborhood watch.

J: “How did you yourself get involved in neighborhood watch? How long has it been?”

M: “Oh yeah, how did you get this position also?”

Deon replies, “Okay, I started in 2016. I'm 30 now, so then I was 23 if I calculate.”

He then goes on to explain his own story behind how he came to join Neighborhood Watch.

He recalls an incident that personally impacted him.

Deon: “When I was coming home from church with my cousin, we got home, and apparently we see the key outside is locked. So that means the door is locked apparently…the guys left the key. So we open the door and see there is a burglar. They took the cell phones and then left in a hurry. My sister opened the door and she saw the gun ... so that left a traumatic experience.”

From there, his family began putting up safety measures and taking extra precautions. “So then I thought, we can't live like this.” Deon says, emphasizing that these criminals are facing no consequences and opposition. “[They] just do everything and they please, and nothing is done to them.” So a few years later he found out about a local group of people that are patrolling the streets and defending the neighborhood. And then his street formed a group, and he got these two groups together.

And this is when it began to form.

Deon says, “we were mostly young people and we said, we're going to stand against crime.”

And from there, groups of neighborhood watch from the area start noticing, and begin joining forces. It was as simple as having two groups joining together, deciding to unite as one force and have a greater impact and influence in the surrounding areas. “Our greatest weapon was the numbers,” Deon emphasizes. “We always had this belief that if we had many [neighborhood watch members], even if you had a gun, you can never shoot all of us, the rest will get to you.”

Eventually they went from an informal group that gathers to a formal forum. The forum consisted of at least two leaders from each neighborhood watch group to represent that area. Deon explains, “I've always been the ‘voice of the group’ whenever we have meetings or.. Whatever”. This is how the alliance was formed, and how all these voices came together under one forum to speak out against crime. These leaders got to know one another, and Deon emphasizes that they are able to utilize each other's skills to collectively come together and make decisions. “You are able to see the qualities people possess as well, and we start talking and doing things.”

The greatest power you can have to create change is uniting voices. We recently saw an example of this through our friends at MCSJ, who organized a march campaigning for a new district hospital to be built in Gugulethu. The demonstration involved many community members marching from the MCSJ offices to the Gugulethu Community Health Centre. Almost 100 neighborhood watch members were in attendance of the event, an integral part of the community and inspiring change.This event was hundreds of voices coming together to reach a common goal, and emphasize how important this is for all members of the community. This is how change begins. The neighborhood watch uses these same principles to continue recruiting new members and uniting groups. So please, spread the word and support the Igunya Neighborhood Watch Federation.

We thank Deon Makiti for all his hard work and time put into supporting the Igunya Neighborhood Watch Groups Federation. Continue checking out our blog for more stories!

Written by Misha Panda

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1 Comment

Victoria Reed
Victoria Reed
Jun 22, 2023

Love this!! 😍

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