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Cape Town gang wars: City investing millions on tech to curb violence, but opposition unconvinced


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Cape Town gang wars: City investing millions on tech to curb violence, but opposition unconvinced

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis
Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis

27th May 2022

By: News24Wire


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The City of Cape Town is pulling out all the stops to curb gang violence in Cape Flats hotspots, spending millions and investing in top-of-the-range technology.

At a full council meeting on Thursday, Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis announced the City's plans.


"There does seem to be an escalation of gang violence in the city. I'm not sure if Crime Intelligence, SAPS or the public know what is driving this issue. What I am extremely proud of is when there were escalations of violence, there was no squeamishness or fear from our law enforcement branches," he said.

Hill-Lewis added the City had been working hard with the police to halt gang warfare. 


"It underscores the interventions we are making by budgeting for 150 additional law enforcement officers this year alone, 80 auxiliary officers and 230 additional officers. This is the most significant expansion in law enforcement human resources investment.

"On top of that, we are budgeting R60-million in CCTV investments, R35-million in drones and aerial surveillance investments, R18-million for body cameras and R20-million for additional LPR (licence plate recognition) cameras and dashboard cameras for our vehicles so that our law enforcement officers are more accountable. We are the only law enforcement agency in the country making these investments

"We are not just making speeches about resources to make Cape Town safer, we are matching those verbal commitments with hundreds and millions of rand to make Cape Town safer and to end the bloody cycle," he said.

Shootings broke out in Manenberg on Monday and six people were wounded. On Sunday, three family members were shot dead.

In Hanover Park, clashes between rival gangs broke out in broad daylight. 

The City's mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, tabled the CCTV Rollout Plan 2021-2026 during the council sitting.

The plan maps out priority areas for CCTV installations.

Demanding more detail

But it unleashed the ire of political parties, which demanded clearer plans on where the cameras will be rolled out.

Economic Freedom Fighters councillor Ntsikelelo Tyandela said although the CCTV cameras were a good addition to the enforcement efforts, "Khayelitsha had a toll of nine deaths and yet no CCTV footage was recorded".

"How does this new plan assist the lives that were lost? This is mere corridor talk," he said.

Cape Coloured Congress President Fadiel Adams welcomed the news but added: 

"The DA seeks to claim victory for what is years overdue as if they've done the coloured community a favour, but seek to ignore the body count which has hit six figures due to the lack of urgency with which it treats our lives. To conclude, will the cameras operate at full capacity? Because, in the past, cameras have been installed, the money [was] spent, but on too many occasions the cameras [didn't] work."

A cut-and-paste job

African National Congress caucus leader Xolani Sotashe said Smith's plan was cut and paste from similar plans over the years. 

"The rollout plans are based on old data. What we want to know is how do you use old data to respond to the current situation? A new approach and strategy are needed. They are dreaming but we will watch whether their dream will be a reality," he said. 

GOOD councillor Suzette Little said: "This is another project only a select few can tender for. We believe more can be done by utilising the money to upgrade the areas".

Smith said there were significant challenges to get the tender in place for a robust rollout.

"The CCTV cameras will help with convictions, but only if the police and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) utilise the camera footage. As little as 15% of the detection relating to crime incidents that we detect are used by police," he added. 

He stressed that CCTV footage continuously yields results. 

"The CCTV can only help with convictions if the crime has been committed in the sight of the CCTV cameras. If the shooting is in a private home, then you will get nothing," he added.

Too little too late

Hanover Park CPF chairperson Ebrahim Abrahams said cameras proved useless in that area. 

"It must be a joint venture. When we went ... to do an inspection of the control room, no one was monitoring it at all. It's a futile exercise. The City can't open criminal cases, only police can and they're not working together," he said. 

Abrahams said the situation had become hopeless. 

"It's mind boggling because they constantly give something to the community and although it looks good on paper, the project becomes a white elephant," he said. 

Long-time activist and chairperson of the Manenberg Safety Forum, Roegshanda Pascoe, added that the City was planning to install drones and CCTV cameras instead of addressing the problem.

"People in Manenberg and other areas are treated inhumanely and therefore, they are acting out in this way and gangs can reign.

"They are violating people's privacy and people's freedom of movement and they want us and our people in a box again.

"The violence plaguing us is used as an excuse to leave us living like this, instead of addressing inequality in our communities," she added.


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