MYSTERY SPY CAMERA AT BUS RANK
Police, City Council distance themselves for surveillance device
Mystery surrounds the ownership of a surveillance camera in the middle of the Mbabane Bus Rank.
The gadget is also unknown by Municipal Council of Mbabane.
A few people who were questioned at the bus rank were all unaware of the surveillance camera, they thought it was just the additional lighting system because there is one high mast lighting pole in the capital city’s bus rank.
Experts say video surveillance by nature has a distressing effect to public life and the growing presence of such public cameras will bring restrained but intense changes to the behaviour of people in public space.
The public or citizens being watched without their consent by any authority or just the thought that they might be watched at any time makes them more insecure and less free-wheeling.
Efforts to get the owner of the surveillance gadget in the middle of the town has proved to be a challenge as the owners of the Mbabane Bus Rank, the Municipal Council of Mbabane, was not aware of the gadget on their property.
Municipality Public Relations Officer Lucky Tsabedze said the gadget does not belong to them and they were yet to confirm the owner.
Concern goes beyond the ownership with interviewed citizens wondering where that footage is taken to and for what purpose of surveillance.
Police Information and Communications Officer Khulani Mamba also distanced the police from such a gadget.
“We are not in the habit of hiding spy or surveillance cameras. Wherever we instal one we ensure that its existence is known. For instance when we upgraded our emergency system (999), we did explain the features it now has, including being able to monitor the traffic flow from busy cities.
“We will investigate this matter and we will know soon who has put it up,” Mamba said. In First World metropolis like London, Frankfurt, New York, Washington, Paris, including neighbouring Johannesburg, surveillance cameras have become helpful in identifying sophisticated criminal activities and terrorist activities.
Some of the terrorists in London, Manchester and Germany were picked from surveillance cameras.
Such gadgets have their good side when in proper hands and can be misused if they fall on wrong hands especially of those who have evil intentions.
Experts studying how the camera systems are operated have also found that male (and probably bored) operators frequently use cameras to voyeuristically spy on women. Statistics show that one in 10 women were targeted for entirely voyeuristic reasons. Advanced surveillance systems such as CCTV need to be subject to checks and balances. Because the technology has evolved so quickly, however, checks and balances to prevent the kinds of abuses outlined above don’t exist. Experts confirm that history has shown that surveillance technologies put in place for one purpose inevitably expand into other uses. With video technology likely to continue advancing, the lack of any clear boundaries for what CCTV systems should be able to do pose a significant danger.
Institutional abuse also sometimes plays its ugly face, bad policies are set at the top, and an entire law enforcement agency is turned toward abusive ends.
That is especially bound to happen in periods of social turmoil and intense conflict over government policies.
Such cameras are prominent in areas where the crime rate is high and it is always said it helps police to have more eyes in those specific areas.
The mystery camera is placed at the bus rank in a 360 degree mobile and monitored around the clock by the owner.
The camera is not hidden, instead it is attached to a power pole some 20 to 30 metres high, perched at the busy bus rank.
ALL SEEING BIG BROTHER: An aerial view of the Mbabane Bus Rank. The pictures are from a mysterious surveillance gadget (inset) which is also unknown to the Municipal Council of Mbabane.