Big brother will be watching

The City of Cape Town has announced its CCTV master plan for Mitchell’s Plain, the aim of which is to improve law enforcement initiatives fighting crime, illegal racing and dumping.

The plan was presented at the Sub-council 12 meeting on Thursday May 18, by Metro police director Barry Schuller.

Mr Schuller said they planned to have a workshop on the first draft of the master plan in June, funding in July and the final draft of the plan by the end of August.

“There needs to be discussions on the scope of the CCTV project, requirements for the system, the location, role players, funding, cost of the system, time lines, installation and the establishment of a CCTV work group,” he said.

Eddie Andrews, mayoral committee member for area south – which includes Mitchell’s Plain – said he welcomed the plan as it would help councillors ensure safer communities.”

“As the City, we are well aware that we would need to be innovative and strategic with the limited resources available,” Mr Andrews said.

“The master plan would guide the safety department and the ward councillor where to install the CCTV cameras when allocating funds in a respective financial year. The councillors of Sub-council 12 have, in principle, agreed to allocate funds annually until cameras are installed in the identified areas,” he said.

Mr Andrews said SAPS, law enforcement, and the traffic department would be consulted to identify the hot spots.

Sheval Arendse, Sub-council 12 chairperson and councillor for Ward 82, said the installation of CCTV cameras in Mitchell’s Plain would result in the area being monitored 24/7.

He said the cameras would not necessarily make the area safer, but would reduce reaction times to crime.

“Crime will be detected as it happens and the control will be able to contact the relevant department. This will make a difference, where the community can ask for footage of the crime committed against them or for security purposes,” he said.

Mr Arendse said the cameras would also be able to monitor and report on dumping, faulty street lights, drag racing and burglaries.

He suggested that hot spots, such as Mountain Park, Sentinel Park, Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro Park and Helderberg Park, should be covered by CCTV cameras.

Mr Schuller said that in 1998 a CCTV pilot project of 12 cameras had been launched in the city, with the City of Cape Town then funding a full roll-out of 72 cameras throughout the Cape Town CBD, which had cost close to R8.5 million.

He said the project had been completed at the end of 1999 and that by June 30 2000, the City had taken full control of the system.

“Since then, the City of Cape Town extended the system to Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain.

The city also has a road traffic management CCTV system on the N1 and N2 freeways, R300 and M5. This was installed by provincial government,” he said.

Mr Schuller said the Integrated Rapid Transport (IRT) system was also monitored by CCTV.

Ward 79 councillor Solomon Philander said there were existing CCTV cameras in Mitchell’s Plain, which were helping to reduce crime.

“There are cameras on Westpoort, AZ Berman and the Town Centre. In the CBD, there are more than 20 cameras that are working.

“Yes, we know that it in some cases the safety structures cannot respond immediately, but residents can go back and have access to the cameras for evidence,” he said.

Mr Solomons urged residents to report incidents to the police.

Speaking about the limitations of a CCTV camera network, Mr Schuller said: “Too much is expected from a CCTV camera. It is not a crime detection device.

“A camera cannot apprehend a perpetrator and is dependent upon responses to incidents by various law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Mr Schuller added that accident damage to cameras resulted in monitoring time lost, with patrols needed in affected areas during CCTV downtime.

Mr Schuller also highlighted the importance of vehicle licence plate recognition systems, which are able to track vehicles entering the area and send out alerts if vehicles of interest are in the area.