Durban - The camera that could have helped police catch the suspects responsible for the recent murder of eight men at the infamous Glebelands Hostel in uMlazi has allegedly not been working for more than a year.
The surveillance camera in block 57 at the hostel has apparently not been operational since last year’s floods. It is one of several cameras across uMlazi township that are supposed to help fight crime, but are not in working order.
According to the DA, the problem of non-functional cameras was affecting the whole of Durban.
DA councillor Sharmaine Sewshanker said the City needed to prioritise getting the 401 non-functional cameras across the municipality working again.
“Wherever there are cameras managed by the disaster unit, those cameras are not working. It is not that the cameras are broken, it’s the fibre contract; the municipality has been dragging their feet in finalising this contract of two years.”
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi called for an investigation into the state of the cameras city-wide, saying millions were spent on their installation, only to later find that they did not work.
The cameras are currently managed by the City’s disaster unit, but they are set to come under the mandate of the metro police unit. This is intended to ensure there is no delay between the detection of crime by the cameras and the response by police.
A source, who did not want to be named as they are not authorised to speak to the media, said the state of cameras in uMlazi was a serious concern as many of them were installed strategically in crime hot spots.
The revelations come after nine men were killed at the hostel in separate incidents.
On Saturday, gunmen opened fire in a room at the hostel, killing eight people, while a man was shot dead on Wednesday while walking to work.
“The camera that was installed on this block (in the hostel) has not been working for almost a year now, and it is not the only one that is not working. It would not have captured those responsible for the attack,” the source said.
The source said several other cameras, including those adjacent to a mall, a stadium, a popular lifestyle and entertainment venue and a fire station, were among those that were not working.
“UMlazi is one of the problematic areas when it comes to the crime rate, it is concerning that so many cameras that could help fight that crime are not working.
“These cameras are located in strategic areas, which means that there was a study done to ensure they are effective … but they are not working,” said the official.
Mandlenkosi Ngcobo, chairperson of the uMlazi Community Policing Forum (CPF), echoed the allegations that the City cameras in that area were not working.
He said recently there was a meeting with some City officials where the residents had sharply raised the issue of the cameras not working.
“As members of the CPF, we do patrols at night; there is no single moment where those cameras have assisted us,” he said.
Nkosi said following the murder of rapper AKA, which drew national and international attention, the City leadership should have addressed the issue of cameras as a matter of urgency.
In response to questions regarding cameras across the City, Dr Musa Gumede, the deputy city manager for Community and Emergency Services, said: “Yes, we are awaiting a fibre tender to be approved so that the cameras can be operational.”
In his State of the City Address in April, mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said “crime continues to be a tightening noose around our neck as the city”.
He said interventions were being put in place to eradicate crime, including the recruitment of 400 metro police officers and the use of technology to fight crime such as CCTV cameras in the CBD, rural areas and townships.