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City of Cape Town's CCTV camera rollout plan under scrutiny, criticised as 'ineffective'

The City is under fire over its lack of rollout of CCTV cameras in violence plagued communities. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

The City is under fire over its lack of rollout of CCTV cameras in violence plagued communities. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 31, 2022


Cape Town - Communities and their political representatives are divided over the City’s CCTV roll-out plan, with some doubting its effectiveness in curbing crime, while others cautiously welcomed it.

The plan, which was adopted at a recent council sitting during which the GOOD Party and the ANC voted against it, uses data extracted from April 2019 to June 2020 with identified focus areas including Mitchells Plain, Delft, Wesbank, Kraaifontein, Nyanga, Mfuleni, Bishop Lavis, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and Elsies River.

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The plan was endorsed in 2021 by the safety and security portfolio but was again tabled earlier this month.

This saw an updated plan being endorsed by the committee, where the five police precincts of Delft, Kraaifontein, Nyanga, Mfuleni and Mitchells Plain were identified.

The City in its 2022/2023 draft budget has set aside R50 million for the expansion of CCTV resources in areas not currently covered.

However, ANC chief whip Xolani Sotashe dismissed the plan as a “cut and paste” from the previous financial years. He said the City used 2020 data to address current problems.

“That is not a plan. JP Smith was at pains trying to explain the so-called plan. Any research that you will be basing your programme on should be accurate and be up to date.

“If you look at the information used on the plan, it is outdated, things have changed and the crime stats that were issued then have changed. Why are we struggling to locate the perpetrators of the mass shootings in Khayelitsha if those CCTV cameras are working, assuming that it's just a matter of extracting the information and identifying the culprits,” he said.

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Sotashe said in the statement the City said over the last decade CCTV cameras were found to be an extremely effective tool in containing and preventing crime, however, he said crime has increased.

“Safety in Cape Town is the number one concern for all the citizens across all constituencies. It came out tops of the concerns on the report on public participation on the Budget of the City yet the City says the CCTV was effective,” he said.

Sotashe said the City was failing to do basic research which he said has resulted in the waste of taxpayers' money through the implementation of different programmes. He said the City has not found an effective approach to dealing with crime.

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GOOD Party councillor Suzette Little said installing cameras across the city had not stopped crime from spiralling out of control in many communities.

“No sooner have they installed the cameras then they get vandalised. This is another project only a select few can tender for. These cameras have not achieved the peace they are meant to achieve,” said Little.

EFF Party leader Ntsikelelo Tyandela said they agreed and supported, with caution, the plan and that the cameras must be of the same quality as those found in the affluent areas.

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“Our police, CPFs, and Neighbourhood Watches are not maximising their security as they have no cameras in their areas to help identify where their visibility should be utilised. They have no knowledge of which cameras are operating in their areas.

“The taxi ranks themselves are allegedly City-owned and yet with their history of taxi violence, they too have no cameras.

“One would be tempted to physically do oversight of the operations centre in Goodwood just to satisfy the suspicion that it would seem the cameras in our areas are non-functional,” he said.

Tyandela said the lack of infrastructure, poor maintenance of installed cameras, and the redundant excuse of vandalism provided were the catalysts for the ongoing shootings in disadvantaged communities.

Hanover Park CPF PRO Kashiefa Mohammed said Smith should be held accountable for the failed Shot Spotters initiative and the previous CCTV cameras that were installed in the area, but were never operational.

“We do not support this because the budget for these cameras would cost other millions which could be spent on youth intervention, unemployment and improving the gutter education we receive at our schools,” she said.

Nyanga Cluster CPF chair Martin Makhasi said the planned rollout of cameras in the precinct didn't make sense if the existing ones were not as effective as expected, while Delft CPF PRO Charles George said CCTV cameras were old technology.

Anti-crime activist Roegshanda Pascoe, who said she was a victim of CCTV ineffectiveness, said that even when data was extracted from the cameras convictions were not guaranteed.

City Safety and Security Portfolio Committee chairperson Mzwakhe Nqavashe said the police and provincial department assisted with more accurate and reported information. He said local stations have already provided the City with detailed information on the locations of these cameras.

Nqavashe said detailed planning for the project was underway and would be communicated in due course.

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Cape Argus