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Cape Town expands CCTV footprint

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town is to extend its closed-circuit camera TV (CCTV) coverage in the Bellville central business district and to Athlone and other places this financial year.

The city has budgeted R5.7 million for this, with a plan to include larger parts of Voortrekker Road as well as other areas, such as Nyanga and Gugulethu, in the network. Cameras are to be installed at the busiest points, such as the entrances to stations, at taxi ranks and on pedestrian routes, says JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security.

FILE PHOTO

“Ideally we would want to have this kind of infrastructure in every public area in Cape Town, but there are real cost considerations that need to be factored in.”

There were cameras at the Bellville taxi rank, but these could monitor only this section.

“There are also CCTV cameras along the Vanguard Drive edge. We need to extend them to other places inside Athlone,” Smith said.

“We have the challenge of vandalism as a result of cable theft, but our system runs reasonably well in spite of this. We are increasing our digital presence bit by bit and making life more uncomfortable for criminals as we go.”

In 2013/14, 524 people were arrested after being caught on camera, while more than 10 000 incidents of fire, traffic offences, by-law violations and crimes were recorded on CCTV. The unit also issued 8 352 fines totalling R5m in the last financial year.

Smith said the increase in the number of incidents and arrests didn’t mean crime was increasing, but that more cases were being detected.

The metro police’s CCTV unit monitors feeds from about 400 cameras set up in the Cape Town CBD and in key public areas in Parow, Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha, Claremont and Manenberg.

While the unit has access to the freeway management system, it monitors more than 560 cameras. This system is a partnership between the city, the SA National Road Agency and the provincial surveillance system that tracks the bus and minibus taxi lane on the N2.

“We managed to improve our response times and we work closely with a host of agencies who provide the appropriate response.

“(The CCTV network) assists with mapping crime hot spots and securing convictions. While it is an expensive investment, the benefits cannot be disputed,” Smith said. The cameras were also used during major events.

“This system gives the joint operation centre advanced warning on traffic and public transport activities, so that officials can channel resources where they are required.”

The footage has also been instrumental in identifying areas with high volumes of traffic violations.

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