Opinionista Axolile Notywala 12 June 2019

JP Smith misleads public on the allocation of CCTV Cameras across the city of Cape Town

Khayelitsha, and many other poor communities such as Nyanga, continue to be discriminated in the allocation of resources that would contribute to the reduction of crime in these communities, despite what Alderman JP Smith says.

The deployment of CCTV cameras across the City of Cape Town has been a contentious issue since the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry recommended, in August 2014, that the number of cameras in Khayelitsha be increased. In the Cape Times of 28 May 2019, in an article titled Seven killed, 17 wounded in shootings, Alderman JP Smith failed to address the issues and instead peddled bald-faced lies to the public.

Smith claimed that Khayelitsha is not neglected and that it has been given the most CCTV cameras in the city. He peddled these lies in response to seven lives lost and 17 people wounded in three incidents over two days in Nyanga and Khayelitsha.

In order to gain a better picture of the CCTV coverage across the city, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request in November 2018 for a breakdown of the number of CCTV cameras deployed in each ward across the city and how many of those deployed had been bought by the city, by Central Improvement Districts (CIDs) or by councillors using their ward allocations. The city could not provide a breakdown of the number of cameras bought with the special rates of the 41 CIDs across the city. As a result, the CID cameras are included in the “city funding” numbers. Although relevant in discussions around the initial capital output for these cameras, it requires pointing out that the ongoing operational costs (management, connectivity, monitoring, and maintenance) of these cameras fall to the city.

The total number of CCTV cameras deployed across the city in November last year was 794. Of those, 640 came from “city funding” while 154 came from Councillor Funding.

With the exception of Ward 115 (which includes the Central City Improvement District (CCID) with 171 cameras) the single wards with the most “city funding” CCTV cameras were Ward 49 (Athlone, Athlone Stadium, Hazendal, Silvertown), with 33 cameras, Ward 59 (Rondebosch, Newlands, Bishops Court), with 33 cameras, and Ward 62 (Bishops Court, Constantia, Wynberg), with 41 cameras.

By contrast the two wards, Ward 37 and 38, that cover Nyanga, often referred to as South Africa’s murder capital, each only had 2 “city funding” CCTV cameras.

According to the November 2018 breakdown, in the 11 wards (Ward 18, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98) that serve Khayelitsha combined there were only 32 “city funding” CCTV cameras. Two of the 11 wards had no “city funding” CCTV cameras.

To make matters worse, eight of the CCTV cameras deployed to Khayelitsha were deployed last year as part of the Western Cape’s Alcohol Harms Reduction Game Changer. The cameras were installed using a grant from South African Breweries. They were installed not with the intent of crime detection but instead to monitor compliance with the Western Cape Liquor Act. In addition, these eight cameras, unlike all 786 others in the city, are not monitored by professionals in the city’s full-time employ but instead are monitored by young people on the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

According to all evidence, the poor CCTV camera coverage in both Nyanga and Khayelitsha is unlikely to change soon. According to Annexure B, a document tabled alongside the City of Cape Town’s budget, changes to the draft budget included the allocation of additional CCTV LPR (Licence Plate Recognition) cameras, to the value of R5-million per sub-council, to four sub-councils. According to this document, two of these sub-councils (13 and 24) cover parts of Nyanga and Khayelitsha.

Unfortunately, in the actual tabled and adopted budget for 2019/2020, these two sub-councils have been replaced. Meaning over the next financial year, while the city will spend R20-million of “city funding” on CCTV cameras, none of these new CCTV cameras will be for Nyanga or Khayelitsha.

All of the above makes it clear that Smith’s claim that Khayelitsha is not neglected and that it has been given the most cameras in the city holds no truth. Khayelitsha, and many other poor communities such as Nyanga, continue to be discriminated against by both the City of Cape Town and the South African Police Services in the allocation of resources that would contribute to the reduction of crime in these communities. DM

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However, it would be an offensive oversight not to acknowledge that right there on the front lines, alongside whistleblowers and civil society, stand the journalists. Armed with only their determination to inform society and defend the truth, caught in the crossfire of shots fired from both sides.

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