GAUTENG PREMIER, MBHAZIMA SHILOWA'S, ADDRESS AT THE LAUNCH OF THE CCTV ANTI-CRIME INITIATIVE, Johannesburg, 11 April, 2000
Master of Ceremonies
Chairperson of BAC, Mr. Smollan
Ladies and gentlemen
On 14 February 2000, at the opening of the Provincial Legislature, I indicated that we were busy with the installation of high-tech surveillance cameras in the Johannesburg City Centre which would start operating on 18 March 2000. Our detractors from the Democratic Party represented by their 'Chief Cynic' -Peter Leon, went public to say that we would not meet our target. Today I stand before you to launch the project, which have undergone testing from 18 March 2000. If crime was not such a serious issue, that needs to be tackled by all concerned, I would be turning to the DP leadership to say: I told you that we are committed to meeting all targets we have set ourselves as reflected in the contract between us and the electorate.
The launch of this innovative initiative, which marks yet another milestone in our consistent battle against crime, also serves as another example of the success of our partnerships against crime in the province.
The Gauteng Provincial Government commends all those who have worked tirelessly to make sure that this initiative succeeds. I extend special words of appreciation to the partnership that was established between the Provincial Government, the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council, Business Against Crime and the South African Police Service.
The installation of CCTV in the Johannesburg CBD has received such large measure of support because it aims at creating an environment less conducive to crime and optimises the provision of adequate security in this important area. This will in turn enhance the process towards the regeneration of the Johannesburg CBD, creating a more secure environment for business, citizens and tourists alike.
This project will further equip police and other law enforcement agencies with a weapon that will enable them to respond rapidly to crime scenes not only to arrest criminals but also prevent crime. The justice system is being empowered with a mechanism that will provide clear evidence of those who break the law, thereby increasing the speed with which judgements are passed and sentences declared.
This first phase sees the operationalisation of 12 cameras, which are strategically located at various parts of the city. The cameras have a zooming capacity of up to 2 kilometres and can swivel through 360 degrees. In addition, they are also linked to a control centre that will be maintained 24 hours a day by specially trained staff. These control centre operators will link up with foot and vehicle patrols of the SAPS, reporting any crime and providing immediate evidence of suspects involved in visible acts of crime in the city.
The introduction of CCTV in the city demonstrates the important contribution of modern technology in combating crime. We are committed to put in place as many mechanisms as possible to combat crime.
The 12 cameras we have installed may not be enough to cover all the areas in the city which have been afflicted by crime. I believe if private companies which already have their own cameras installed at they properties could extend their use by linking them up with our operation centre we would cover a wider area. I call on them to take up this challenge.
The MEC for Safety and Liaison is already engaged in discussion with local government on our intention to introduce similar project to other cities and towns of Gauteng and, we are convinced that the result will be, as we expect in Johannesburg, lower crime levels.
Once we have installed the cameras in other cities and towns we will look at the possibility of linking up all centres across the province to one central control station.
You will also be happy to know that further discussions are underway to extend this technology so that it could be utilised for other purposes, such as traffic control and co-ordinating quicker responses to other emergencies.
This is in addition to other plans we will be putting in place to enhance the capacity of law enforcement agencies, including traffic police to combat crime.
MEC for Finance and Economic Affairs Jabu Moleketi announced during his budget speech at the Provincial Legislature that an amount of R25 000 000.00 will be spent from this year's budget to procure motor vehicles to increase the capacity of traffic police to patrol roads.
Crime is an enemy to our freedom; it is a threat to our peace and a deterrent to efforts of poverty alleviation, economic empowerment, job creation and quality service delivery.
We want to go back to the days when this city could provide all round business and entertainment. We want the city to be lively again. We will show through action those handbag snatchers, car hijackers, and other criminals who have no respect for property and life that they are not welcome in any part of the Province.
While these cameras will assist the criminal justice system by providing scientific evidence which could be used to convict criminals, they are just part of our overall strategy to reduce crime and cannot on their own root out crime all together. In this regard we reiterate the continuous need for absolute public support in the fight against criminals who threaten to ruin our political and economic progress.
The people have already demonstrated during the recent high profile anti-crime operation that co-operation between communities and the police can yield success in the fight against crime.
The mere sharing of information regarding pursued suspects goes a long way in curbing further acts of crime. Let us be responsible citizens and say No! to those who have made it their commitment to suppress our efforts of transformation.
The same call must be made to magistrates, prosecutors and legal representatives to increase their efforts to speed up the justice process. There is no convincing argument against introducing night courts which, I believe would go a long way towards a quicker justice process.
This is the era of development and we cannot afford to lose sight of this fundamental responsibility. Let us not allow criminals to shift our focus from the real priorities of our time otherwise future generations will pass harsh judgements against us.
Issued by Office of the Premier, Gauteng
11 April 2000