Slice Of Life: 73 and in the neighbourhood watch - 'Somebody's got to do it'

Susan Lewis, 73, is in the neighbourhood watch. (David Harrison)

Susan Lewis, 73, is in the neighbourhood watch. (David Harrison)

We were forced to leave District Six in 1970. I was 27 at the time. It was a very close-knit community. What I really liked was the acceptance people had for each other, especially each other’s religions. You could go to you neighbour and ask for a cup of sugar. But people also romanticise those days. We had our problems; crime, gangs, poverty.

I moved back here in 2005. It was very emotional but not easy. We weren’t a community. You didn’t really know the people who had moved back.

But now we are more like a community. The neighbourhood watch I’m a part of has helped to build a sense of community. There was some chap living here who wanted to charge each household to protect the area but he wasn’t doing anything. So we decided to do it ourselves. I’m 73, but somebody’s got to do it.

Now, we walk the streets at night and make sure everything is fine. There are about 15 of us and we are very visible – always patrolling in the bright lime-green jackets we wear. You can see us miles away. There used to be drug activity in the area and I think, partly because of us, it’s no longer that much.

In die winter, as dit so koud is, is dit ‘n ander saak (it’s different matter during the cold winter). But it’s really fun doing the patrols. Ons gesels lekker (we chat a lot), so it is something I look forward to – except for Saturdays and Fridays. On Saturdays I prepare food for Sunday lunch. And Fridays, the kids are out of the house, so it’s ‘me time’.

Susan Lewis, 73, as told to Carl Collison, the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian

Carl Collison

Carl Collison

Carl Collison is the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian. He has contributed to a range of local and international publications, covering social justice issues as well as art and is committed to defending and advancing the human rights of the LGBTI community in Southern Africa. Read more from Carl Collison

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