Join the fight against crime

Safe City man­agers urge lo­cals to pre­vent and re­port crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties

Weekend Witness - - News -

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

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