City of Tshwane CCTV camera operations room. Picture: Supplied
Pretoria - The effectiveness of CCTV cameras as a deterrent to crime in the City of Tshwane has come under the spotlight since it emerged that the operators of the system - which monitors the 300 cameras - had been released from their jobs.

Close to 100 operators have been replaced by a number of Tshwane Metro Police Department officers since the contractor’s contract expired at the end of July.

But, MMC for Community Safety and Emergency Services Karen Meyer gave residents an assurance that security was not compromised.

“The camera operators were not laid off. The tender with the service provider tasked with maintaining the infrastructure has lapsed; it is normal as happens from time-to-time in government procurement processes," she said.

According to former contractors, it was unrealistic to delegate the work to fewer than five City police officers. On a normal working day, the cameras would be manned by at least 100 operators spread over three shifts, they said.

“Whenever there is an accident or incident of crime we are the first to report it to the metro police. We even assisted the SAPS with visual evidence during their crime investigation,” one of the operators said.

They claimed that the situation now, where there was a shortage of manpower, meant that the public in the streets were no longer safe. 

Meyer does not agree and said the CCTV operations room is functional, and is being operated by the Tshwane Metro Police Department.

“I was in that control room during one of the days of unrest in the last week for the whole day, and the officers were on top of all situations and ensured the department, as well as SAPS could act where necessary,” she said.

Meyer said the City was exploring various options to not only maintain and upgrade its existing CCTV infrastructure in the inner-city, but also expand the footprint of its coverage to the greater Tshwane areas.

She maintained that the CCTV cameras had not been switched off. “I visited the operations and control room in the last two weeks, including yesterday, and the cameras are being operated by the officers.

“Accordingly, this could not have had any impact on the reaction times by law enforcement agencies to the recent unrest in the City. The CCTV is one of the various tools available to law enforcement,” she said.

Pretoria News