Wednesday, August 29, 2012

CCTV cuts crime in South Africa

BIG BROTHER: The Johannesburg CBD CCTV crime-monitoring operation centre in Rissik Street with 237 cameras monitoring all the streets in the CBD. Photo: Tsheko Kabasia

As Nigeria grapples with increasing insecurity, authorities may take a cue from South Africa, which has passed through (and is still passing through?) fire and brimstones in the hands of criminals.
South Africa is beginning to count the gains of its investment in Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system as a way of fighting crime. Reports say the system has helped the rainbow country to rein in spiralling crime in the country in recent times. South Africa which many people across the world regard as the rape capital of the world, has hit international headlines for some of the horrendous crime stories in the last few years.

Efforts of the authorities to curb crime include installation of CCTV cameras in strategic locations across the country. The City of Johannesburg has 237 CCTV cameras installed to monitor crime in the city centre and surrounding areas.

This is apart from private efforts by organisations and individuals.  The City of Johannesburg's Metro Trading Company, which is responsible for administration of taxi ranks (motor parks) in the city, has its own CCTV system installed in some popular taxi ranks such as Noord and Bree Street taxi ranks in central Johannesburg and at Chris-Hani Baragwanath taxi rank in Soweto.

MTC has 38 CCTV cameras at Noord Street and 86 at Bree Street.

The country’s prominent newspaper, Sowetan observed the CCTV crime-monitoring operations from the metro police's operating centre and saw a number of criminals being arrested while committing crimes or running away from the scene. Many incidents, especially muggings, took place outside taxi ranks.

The operators who sit in front of the CCTV monitors and who are trained to spot suspicious-looking people, radio field marshals with directions to where a crime is likely being committed.

In one incident in Hillbrow, a group of eight pretended to be construction workers and stole copper cables from a manhole.

They put cones around the manhole and cordoned it off with red tape. One went underground with a saw to cut the cable. Police arrested them during the process.

The country's other big metro councils all employ CCTV cameras as crime-busting devices. They all say that the equipment has helped reduce crime.

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