Join the fight against crime
Safe City managers urge locals to prevent and report criminal activities
Safe City general manager Lucas Holtzhausen in the control room where 169 cameras are monitored every second. PHOTOS: NOKUTHULA NTULI means to fund their next fix.
Holtzhausen and Herbert’s biggest frustration, they said, was the public’s “negligent” attitude towards preventing crime. They said people took their safety and that of their belongings for granted to such an extent that some didn’t even close the windows or lock their cars when they parked in the CBD.
“Fighting crime starts with the public, they must be on board with us. It starts with preventing crime. Don’t give criminals any opportunity to take your things.
“If it does happen then we will take the next step but what makes me very angry is when the police catch the suspect and the victim refuses to open a case,” said Holtzhausen.
Herbert said this was the reason Pietermaritzburg had a large number of repeat offenders because if they are not charged they go back on the streets only to commit more crime.
“Fighting crime is everyone’s responsibility but if you don’t want to open a case then you are sending a wrong message to the criminals to say that they can get away with it.
“People think it’s a waste of time to report cases to the police and we are nev- Safe City human resources manager Jason Herbert with CCTV operator Pretty Mbense. er going to win the war against crime if that attitude persists,” he said.
He said the same applies to businesses. Safe City would contact the delivery companies if they saw goods being stolen from their trucks.
“You won’t believe how many companies tell us not to worry about the case because they’ve got insurance. What they don’t understand is that if there’s an increase in a number of claims the insurance companies also increase premiums and that affects everyone, and that everyone is all of us.”
While dealing with the public has its challenges, the Safe City team said their partnership with the police and courts has helped achieve dozens of convictions annually.
Safe City has never lost any of their matters that have been taken to court and team members do avail themselves to testify if need be. Herbert said this came with a challenge because their staff live in the communities where some of the suspects come from.
“We’ve never had an incident where someone was attacked but it’s a constant worry because they sometimes take taxis with the families of the accused.”
Going forward Safe City would like to upgrade its technology so that it is on par with other surveillance organisations around the world. This would include a camera fitted with a number plate recognition system.
“Criminals are always trying to beat the system so we need to keep up with the technological changes so that we are always one step ahead of them but at the moment funding is a challenge because we are solely reliant on the grant from the municipality,” said Herbert.
Council recently approved a budget allocation of R11,8 million for the 2018/19 financial year, which goes towards operational expenses, including salaries and maintaining the cameras.
Asked what some of the weirdest things captured by their cameras were, both Holtzhausen and Herbert laughed then the latter simply said: “Anything you can think of, we’ve seen it”. • [email protected]ness.co.za