“Be vigilant, don’t be a vigilante,” says security expert

“Be vigilant, don’t be a vigilante,” says security expert

Following the reaction to last week’s show, Terence Pillay chats to security expert Kyle van Reenen on how people should behave on their community WhatsApp group.


Listen to this week's 'Good, Bad, Ugly', or read the details under the podcast. 

Last week I shed some light on community Whatsapp groups how many people on those groups use it as nothing more than a vehicle for racism. One of the biggest issues was the number of bored women on these groups that cry wolf for every simple thing – often without even investigating or getting more information before they spread it.  

Remember the women who alerted their group to a suspicious black male parked outside a prominent Durban school? As it turned out the man was simply waiting to fetch his child who was participating in an extramural activity but instead was confronted by the police, who someone had called, only to find out that he was just another parent doing what many other parents do on a daily basis.

And of course, how can we forget the man that was shot with a paintball gun bu a group of gung-ho residents in Manor Gardens who read on the group that he was suspicious. He was simply a man going home from work. The man is now suing his assailants. 

READ: Beware what you share on WhatsApp

After the show, I received a number of calls and emails from people on these groups who told me about shocking posts that could get people into trouble for spreading hate speech. For example, when one woman called out someone on her group for being racist, she was met with the response: “I hope you get raped in your house and then you will learn to be more vigilant”. This is unacceptable. 

One of the calls came from a security expert, Kyle van Reenen who manages around 198 community Whatsapp group. He says these unsubstantiated posts are a dime a dozen, but they have to respond to every single one of them, just in case it’s a legitimate emergency. 

Kyle says people should make sure that there is actually something suspicious about a person’s behaviour before alarming people on these groups. He also gives some useful advice to residents on how to stay safe in their neighbourhoods. (Listen to the audio above) 

At the end of the day we all need to be vigilant so that we don’t become a victim of crime, but we also need to think before we post drivel on these Whatsapp groups. 

You can email Terence Pillay at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @terencepillay1 and tweet him your thoughts.   

If you missed any of The Good, The Bad and Ugly, catch up here: 

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