Durban - City officials are looking at mounting loudspeakers near CCTV cameras on the Durban beachfront to ward off potential criminals.
The city already has a loudspeaker outside the city hall which was put on trial two years ago during the world cup.
“There were a lot of delegates coming in and out of city hall so we wanted to make sure that they were safe and everything ran smoothly,” said Senior Superintendent, Erick Khuzwayo, of the metro police.
Speaking from the city’s CCTV control room, Khuzwayo said the speakers would allow the 12 operators to react quickly if someone was spotted breaking the law.
“It gets frustrating at times for operators when they see that a crime is about to be committed but they can’t warn the unsuspecting victim quickly enough,” he said.
There are more than 200 closed circuit television cameras throughout Durban that operate 24 hours a day.
Usually the cameras are tended by 12 operators, but manpower is boosted during the festive season to combat crime.
Operators at the control room said the most common crimes they witnessed were car theft, robbery, and pick pocketing.
A new trend operators had noticed recently was the snatching of gold earrings and women’s wigs.
“The earring snatching looks very painful while the snatching of the wig is just embarrassing,” said one operator.
When operators notice any criminal activity, they immediately alert metro police or the SAPS through the radio room – a process that can sometimes be time consuming, enabling the criminals to flee. When the Daily News visited the control room last week, 15 operators, a supervisor, and a metro police officer were manning the monitors.
Khuzwayo said crime hot spots like Mahatma Gandhi (Point) Road, Dr Pixley KaSeme (West) Street and Joseph Ndluli (Russell) Street were monitored by several operators, especially at night.
Car theft, drug trafficking and brawls, which often ended in several patrons and revellers sustaining serious injuries were notorious in these areas in the CBD.
“That is why we need the loudspeakers to be installed throughout town wherever there is a camera, because it’s no use seeing the incident if you can’t do anything to assist the person being attacked,” said an operator.
Last month the Pietermaritzburg municipality mounted two speakers in the city centre as part of a R4 million project and already there have been reports of crimes being foiled and would-be law-breakers responding favourably to orders via the speakers. - Daily News