My experience with Community Service, the good, the bad and the ugly. In 2012 with somewhat of a struggle I managed to join the local CPF in my town. It started off quite well with neighborhood patrols. It really felt that we could make a difference in our area’s. But as time went by I started to get sucked into the drama and politics of the organization.

Patrolling – the beginning

After some initial training we started patrolling our neighborhood at night and sometimes during the early morning hours. I had no two way radio or any form of communication apart from my cell phone. We had CPF identification magnetic mats on our vehicles and with a SAPS authority number we did our job.

There were not many CPF members at that stage, well in our neighborhood. The local Security Company did not really take much notice of us, which was a sad situation. But we carried on regardless doing our Community Service and having some fun.

The Radio Network Community Service

A few of the senior members together with myself started a radio network. It started small with a few radios and eventually grew in members until it covered most of our town. The community could purchase two way radios and join the network which enabled communication between the community and CPF.

Every member on the network was issued a call sign. The call signs were dependent on the area that the member stayed. I do believe that this system was fantastic and hope it still is, as I am no longer involved. Many crimes were reported and together with SAPS and EMPD, quite a few criminals were apprehended.

Personality clashes within the organization

I progressed within the CPF to eventually be involved in the committee which was initially great. But as time went by, I realized that people just cant work together.

There was so much arguing and disagreements that it became most unpleasant for me. It started to affect my personal life as much of this fighting was happening between people I had become friends with.

At one of committee meetings two of the senior members got so heated that they were physically punching and throwing each other around. This in front of lady members.

After this things deteriorated and I just had to get out. It was a very difficult and sad decision, but I resigned and cut ties completely with the CPF. Five years I put into the CPF.

I can seriously encourage people to join this worth while cause as it really makes a difference. But just don’t get too involved with the people and the “politics”.

Finding other ways to help our community

I started the Benoni Community Network Facebook Group which I suppose is a Community Service of sorts. It is a group for the joined Benoni members to discuss and look for recommendations and discuss issues concerning the community. With over 26 000 members it has become almost a full time job. But I do it with pleasure!

Here is a link to the Facebook group

The community working together

Over the years I have also tested other ideas like a neighborhood watch just for our three streets in our small area. Not many people are interested. It seems, in my opinion that people want things done but are more than happy letting others do the work and taking the risk.

I am not a negative person at all but have come to the conclusion that for my own sanity, to rather stay away from getting involved with the community and trying to get people to work together.

My Grandfather always used to say “Charity starts at home”. So these days I rather dedicate my spare time to my family and close friends.

To sum it all up – apart from the Facebook Group – I tried the Community Service thing but not something I can dedicate myself to!

Henry Norval

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