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By Cheryl Kahla

Content Strategist

Drones, tamper-proof number plates, e-buttons: Lesufi’s high-tech plans

Lesufi said Gauteng's budget would include state-of-the drones, tamper-proof number plates and panic buttons for 'every citizen'.

Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi delivered his maiden State of the Province Address (Sopa) on Monday, addressing crime, e-tolls, high-tech number plates and drones, among other things.

He said Gauteng was home to “heartless and merciless” criminals and announced several ways in which government would increase its budget to fight crime

The budget to fight crime would increase to R750 million, Lesufi said, and some of this would be spent on 180 state-of-the-art drones, tamper-proof licence plates, and panic buttons for every citizen.

Crime-fighting drones

Lesufi said the inclusion of state-of-the-art drones was meant to prevent police officers from becoming “sacrificial lambs in the battle with criminals.”

The drones would be equipped with “technology to capture the direction of a bullet and where they come from”, but the exact specifics of how this would work are yet to be shared.

Back in November 2022, Lesufi said drones and CCTV cameras are required because South African “can’t fight crime with toys”.

Panic buttons

Lesufi said panic buttons (or e-buttons) would be linked to police services and “every citizen, every time they feel threatened, will push the button and will alert authorities.”

To keep up with this demand, Lesufi said 400 new patrol cars, two new helicopters, and 6 000 new recruits will be added to the police force.

It’s worth noting that Lesufi made the same promise back in November when he said Gauteng needs a higher-than-usual police presence over the festive season.

At the time, Lesufi also talked about equipping illegal guns with trackers.

Tamper-proof number plates

As for number plates, Lesufi said vehicles are a common denominator in criminal activities, thus, “the introduction of security features to improve the credibility of a number plate” is the logical step in fighting crime.

He said these high-tech measures would make it difficult to clone number plates, and plans are underway to work with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for a database to track vehicles across borders.

It’s not impossible to implement.

In 2019, the Durban Metro Police introduced vehicles fitted with cameras capable of analysing vehicle and owner data through automatic number plate recognition.

It was part of the GovTech 2019 Digital Transformation initiative geared towards 4IR and enhanced cyber security measures.[1]

ALSO READ: Sopa 2023: E-tolls permanently scrapped

Draft regulations

These new measures were outlined in the Provincial Gazette of 17 February 2023, in which MEC Kedibone Diale-Tlabela said interested stakeholders have until 31 March 2023 to make representations.[2]

The draft regulation cites the introduction of security features to “improve credibility of a number plate and enable easy tracking within the value chain from the manufacturer to the end-user (ie, the vehicle owner).”

I’ll conclude this article with the same disclaimer I used in November 2022: “We will report on the logistics of how such a mammoth task would be undertaken once we have more information.”


[1] GovTech conference to focus on 4IR
[2] Provincial Gazette of 17 February 2023