Drones purchased by the City at a cost of R500 000 are gathering dust as officials await licence approval by the South African Civil Aviation Authority. Picture: Ross Jansen/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Cape Town - Drones purchased by the City at a cost of R500 000 are gathering dust as officials await licence approval by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (Sacaa).

The City’s director for Safety and Security, Richard Bosman, said: “The City had an initial meeting with the Civil Aviation Authority in 2019. The application process comprises five phases. We’re still in the second step and so it’s likely to be some time still before an adjudication is made on the application.”

The second phase means that the City will be invited to attend a formal application meeting with the relevant personnel at Sacaa.

In August last year, the City announced it had trained six drone pilots and purchased a number of drones to help combat crime and inspect bridges. They had reportedly spent more than R500000 on drones.

Bosman said the drones were acquired via tender and request for quotation. They have been procured in the last two financial years.

“The City is of the view that the use of drones can contribute significantly to its service delivery in various fields. The technology may be used for, among others, operational planning, investigation of metal theft and deterring perpetrators at high-risk sites, providing live data feed during high-risk tactical operations, search operations, monitoring public unrest situations, monitoring illegal road behaviour, monitoring land invasions, guiding night-time operations equipped with thermal cameras, and monitoring high-density areas from a traffic and public order perspective, like beaches in summer,” he said.

Sacaa spokesperson Pappie Maja said: “Sacaa has received calls and/or emails enquiring about the application process from individuals working for municipal or government entities. However, our records indicate that we haven’t received any formal application from any municipal entity, Cape Town included.

“As such, Sacaa has not yet granted any municipality a permit or operator certificate to operate remotely piloted aircraft systems or drones. In 2019, a pre-application meeting was held with the relevant City of Cape Town officials. Guidance in terms of the necessary application process that needs to be followed was provided to the City’s representatives. However, a formal application process has not commenced yet.”

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Cape Argus