Big Brother is watching: 6 000 CCTV cameras to track crime, but SA feels none the safer

The objective is to enhance existing crime-fighting efforts but South Africans feel law enforcement ethic needs to change.

Government says South Africans should feel a little safer, now that around 6 000 CCTV cameras will help the state’s law enforcement agencies keep an eye on the streets of Gauteng.

But residents seem to not have much faith in the new initiative, stating that they feel it will probably end up like most government projects.

The intention behind the cameras, says Gauteng Premier, Andrek Panyaza Lusufi, is to utilise technology in the fight against crime – something private security companies have already been doing.

“The CCTV cameras are in townships, business districts, areas with high crime spots, roads, schools, and other public places,” he explained.

He proceeded to elaborate that the initiative aimed at combating crime through technology involves collaboration among various government entities, including the Department of e-Government, Community Safety, and the South African Police Services (Saps).

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Enhancing existing crime-fighting efforts

He said that its objective is to enhance existing crime-fighting efforts by providing resources such as CCTV cameras, advanced surveillance drones, panic buttons for improved access to law enforcement assistance during emergencies, and the installation of tracking devices on vehicles.

According to a MyBroadband report, the cameras are allegedly not a ‘new installation’ but part of an agreement the government signed with a private company to access its camera feeds.

The report claims it is an initiative in partnership with a private company called Vuma Cam.

“I am excited that this partnership finally took place. It has been a long time coming. I am tired of crime. We cannot be held hostage by criminals, we cannot be scared even in our shadows because of criminals. Crime is a big problem and it is even halting investment interests in our province. We are signing this agreement to protect our people,” Lusufi said about the partnership.

Still not safe

But a number of Gauteng residents said that the knowledge of the installation of these cameras did not make them feel safer at all.

One resident who asked to remain anonymous said that these cameras would not make much of a dent in the province’s crime rate.

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“Knowing the Saps, they will likely be reluctant to do anything with the information from the cameras.

“Lesufi’s intentions are good, but the ethic in law enforcement itself needs to change,” said the cynical Joburger.

The Gauteng premier, who has been focussing on tackling crime in the province, was also recently criticised for the deployment of crime prevention wardens.

DA leader, John Steenhuisen, has been adamant that the appointed wardens are not suitable to fight crime.

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