- The Gauteng local government held an epolicing roundtable event this weekend to discuss tech solutions to the province’s crime problem.
- One solution outlined, among many others, is increasing CCTV surveillance across the province.
- This will see the province’s out-of-service etoll gantries repurposed to monitor the roads.
The weekend saw the provincial government of Gauteng hold an “epolicing” roundtable event, focusing on finding tech-minded solutions for the province’s high crime rate.
Friday saw the latest figures from Police Minister Bheki Cele, which told that 7 555 people were murdered across South Africa between just October and December last year.
Tackling crime with tech, or “epolicing,” has been a main point of effort for Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi ever since he took the post in October last year.
Lesufi indicated then that he planned to use the Gauteng Department of eGovernment’s resources towards fighting violent crime with technology.
The premier added that this strategy, which would be revealed to the public soon, would take crimefighting efforts “to the next level.”
The initiatives planned by the premier and the egovernment department include more CCTV cameras city-wide and the creation of a central “integrated operation centre” where police will be able to monitor them, the use of drones to patrol city streets and find criminal elements, the disbursement of a device that contains a panic button whereupon police will be able to find you and help you, and others.
Since these plans were revealed in October last year, none have received solid explanations on how and when they will be manifested. But they have since been updated in terms of scope.
This update comes in the guise of points that were to be discussed at the epolicing roundtable, held in Soweto.
Again, Gauteng government indicated that a security network will be established to “enable the availability of face recognition technology and surveillance cameras”, and that “epanic buttons will be tested and introduced to households to assist in combating gender-based violence.”
Lesufi has lofty goals, telling the media during the roundtable event that the epanic buttons will connect with “7 000 new CCTV” cameras to be rolled out – and when one pushes the panic button, it will connect to the nearest camera, sending information to the security network, allowing responders to find your position and assist you according to your situation.
“It’s an integrated approach,” Lesufi said, “I’m not saying it will work overnight and it will have teething problems – but at least we would have tried.”
Further, Gauteng is set to begin repurposing its e-toll gantries, now out of service, to “efficiently monitor the movements of vehicles” in line with ramped-up surveillance efforts.
Local government has also recruited and is training 6 000 “Crime Prevention Wardens” to increase police visibility across the province. These recruits, mostly young adults, will serve as an “early warning system” for police and respond to “incidents of crime, corruption, vandalism, and lawlessness.”
The full extent of who these recruits are, if they are official members of the SAPS or if they are in effect a “neighbourhood watch” has yet to be announced.
Premier Lesufi has called for more private and public cooperation when it comes to dealing with local crime. Gauteng gov hopes these partnerships could benefit the 6 000 “wardens” with training and capacity building
“We are entering a new phase to make Gauteng a safer place. We are entering a new phase of partnership with those that are at the coal (face) of fighting crime. Let’s combine our energies and make criminals a foreign thing in history in our province,” Lesufi told Independent Media.
Four new helicopters have been deployed in pursuit of crime with Lesufi adding that the province would continue cutting down on unnecessary expenditures in various departments to meet its epolicing goals.
Last week the premier also announced that Gauteng was steadily building a foundation to remove some of the burden that Eskom’s blackouts were placing on the province