Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith Photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith Photo: African News Agency (ANA)

JP Smith accused of lying about a CCTV master plan that 'does not exist'

By Chevon Booysen Time of article published Oct 2, 2019

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Cape Town – Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith has been accused of lying after it emerged that the CCTV master plan he boasted about did not exist, according to the Social Justice Coalition (SJC). 

This after the SJC said it had submitted a Public Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to have access to the master plan, when they were informed that the plan Smith referred to was not recorded.

SJC spokesperson Sarah Summers, said: “This means that (Smith’s) previous public claim that the city has such a plan was a lie. 

"This means that the City of Cape Town has been spending money on installing, maintaining and monitoring CCTV cameras with no clear plan or strategy.

"The SJC has long maintained that the distribution of CCTV cameras across the city appeared to be unplanned and not in any strategic way.

"The SJC demonstrated, using the City's own CCTV coverage data, that the majority of City-maintained and monitored CCTV cameras are to be found in safer wards and not in wards on the Cape Flats where communities are confronted with extreme levels of violent crime daily."

Smith has maintained, however, that the City does indeed have a master plan. Earlier this year, the Cape Times reported the City’s intention to install CCTV cameras across the city to the value of R17 million by the end of the previous financial year, which concluded during June, with none of them being installed in Khayelitsha.

The Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into policing heard submissions from police management that the lack of CCTV cameras hampered crime-fighting efforts. 

“The SJC had seen mention of the ‘CCTV master plan’ and as a result we engaged with the city and requested a copy of the master plan on three separate occasions. 

"City officials, including Smith, ignored these requests. From Smith’s opinion piece it was clear that this ‘old, dated’ CCTV master plan must still be in operation, as the city had not yet initiated a revision of the plan.

“In response, the SJC escalated the matter by submitting a formal PAIA application. Last Friday, we received the decision to our PAIA application from the city’s deputy information officer. 

"The correspondence informed us that the record we applied for, the City of Cape Town CCTV master plan, ‘does not exist’.” Smith reiterated that the City did have a CCTV master plan.

“In recent months, the city has made it clear that the existing plan is outdated and that a process is under way to formulate an updated document. 

"We specifically walked away from it because we said it was not a dynamic enough process and aged too rapidly, and that we would annually ask the SAPS for a threat assessment and on a more dynamic basis than a static plan, determine the roll-out of cameras in response to the crime stats and SAPS’ threat assessment.

“The SJC must wake up and stop playing politics with crime and safety,” Smith said. While CCTV would help infighting crime, more police officers were needed, he added.

“The City of Cape Town is continuously working to increase its CCTV footprint. This is a massive undertaking, cost-wise, and more especially because of the lack of infrastructure in some areas. 

"What we need is more police officers on the ground, better-resourced police stations, more effective investigations and even more importantly, more prosecutions.”

The SJC said they were willing to work with the city to implement a strategic plan for the CCTV roll-out.

Cape Times

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