Big Brother is watch­ing ...

The Citizen (KZN) - - News - Sipho Mabena

You may not have known this, but high­ways in Gaut­eng’s met­ros of Jo­han­nes­burg, Tsh­wane and Ekurhu­leni are un­der con­stant sur­veil­lance from cam­eras, with in­ci­dents – some of the most hor­rific ac­ci­dents and plain bizarre be­hav­iour by mo­torists – reg­u­larly caught on cam­era.

Ex­am­ples in­clude a video of a mo­tor­cy­cle crash­ing into the back of a ve­hi­cle at high speed and that of a truck driver who stops his truck by the side of the high­way on a Sun­day af­ter­noon, ca­su­ally runs across the high­way as ve­hi­cles whiz past to kiss a girl on the other side of the mo­tor­way.

These are some of the dozens of mo­ments caught on at least 298 sur­veil­lance cam­eras watch­ing the met­ros’ high­ways, live-stream­ing to SA Na­tional Roads Agency Lim­ited’s (San­ral) hi-tech traf­fic mon­i­tor­ing cen­tre in Cen­tu­rion.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula in­spected the cen­tre yes­ter­day, say­ing they wanted to demon­strate San­ral’s hi-tech ca­pac­ity to mon­i­tor the high­way.

He said sim­i­lar sys­tems were in place in Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, say­ing the cen­tres were op­er­a­tional 24-hours a day and that they en­able traf­fic of­fi­cials and emer­gency ser­vices to re­spond to ac­ci­dents within 10 min­utes.

“This is the Big Brother house on the high­ways, to show that we are al­ways watch­ing,” Mbalula said.

He said the fa­cil­ity was launched in 2006 and was at its peak just be­fore 2010, in time for the Fifa World Cup but said the hitech sys­tem was help­ful in mon­i­tor­ing the high vol­ume of fes­tive sea­son traf­fic on the high­ways.

The min­is­ter said the sys­tem was also ac­ces­si­ble to other law en­force­ment agen­cies in case there was a crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity un­der way or if po­lice wanted to trace a ve­hi­cle and that the footage was ad­mis­si­ble in court as ev­i­dence.

“If you have a break­down, you put on your haz­ard lights, put out your tri­an­gle and those mon­i­tor­ing the live-feed will be able to no­tice that you have a prob­lem and dis­patch as­sis­tance,” Mbalula said.

The cen­tre’s man­ager Sipho Langa said the sys­tem was pi­loted along Ben Schoe­man high­way and proved ef­fi­cient in re­spond­ing to in­ci­dences and spot­ting sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­i­ties.

“We use a CCTV sys­tem called PTZ. This means our cam­eras can pan, tilt and zoom,” he said.

In case of load-shed­ding or power fail­ure, each cam­era has a two-hour backup bat­tery and the cen­tre it­self has a backup gen­er­a­tor.

This is the Big Brother house on the high­ways, to show that we are al­ways watch­ing.

Fik­ile Mbalula Trans­port Min­is­ter

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