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Ontdekkers Park South Blockwatch (OPSB) is a community based organisation that
was founded in 1989 in an effort to fight crime in Roodepoort, Johannesburg.
OPSB prides itself in creating a safe neighbourhood for its residents who
volunteer their time and money. The volunteer OPSB resident patrols have proved
successful and have been operational for more than twenty years making it the
oldest Blockwatch in the Roodepoort area.
As part of the Blockwatch safety procedures, the volunteers are taught to
combat crime in various ways. Some of which include:
To aid the professionalism and guidelines of the OPSB community, the Blockwatch
works under the auspices of the CPF (Community Police Forum) and serve as the
eyes and ears of the SAPS (South African Police Service) within Roodeport. Due
to this and of course the unwavering support of hundreds of in the area, the
crime statistics are substantially lower than nearby areas.
Being a community based organisation, what makes the OPSB so successful is that
the community works together to create an environment where residents and
neighbours know each other and always remain informed of any suspicious
activity in the area. With this is mind, Bernard Farrell, Chairperson of the
Blockwatch, started using the BulkSMS Text Messenger in 2008 as a means of
communicating with the neighbourhood. When asked why SMS was chosen as the
primary form of communication as opposed to social media, email or USSD,
Farrell stated that “with the high crime rate we needed a way of disseminating
information quickly. 90% of our members have a cell phone and most understand
and can read an SMS message. Not everybody has internet access and to send out
a bulk e-mail is complex.” Farrell went on to explain that OPSB uses the
BulkSMS Text Messenger to alert members whenever there has been criminal
activity in the area. An example of this may be a call to look out for a Toyota
(ABC 123 GP) with two occupants that have recently been involved in a household
Another feature of the BulkSMS platform that Farrell enjoys is that it provides
the ability to personalise the SMS messages that you send. “We are a voluntary
organisation and members who give of their time are valued, personalising an
SMS message goes a long way in making our members feel appreciated.” says
According to Pieter Streicher, Managing Director of BulkSMS.com, “It is great
to see how SMS is being used to ensure that the Roodeport neighbourhood remains
timeously informed whenever there is crime or suspicious behaviour in the area.”