New SMS plan to keep city safe

2007-12-08 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG will hopefully soon be a safer city. This after Safe City Pietermaritzburg yesterday launched an SMS programme to boost the fight against crime in the city as an extension of the existing 60 crime monitoring cameras in the city.

More than a million additional “human eyes” will now be monitoring crime in the city and can report suspicious activities via sms.

Safe City chairperson, Des Winship, said the Safe City SMS programme will encourage community involvement in fighting crime. “The community is a missing link in the fight against crime and this will bring the community on board”.

The launch was held at the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB) premises yesterday.

Key players in the fight against crime pledged their support. Msunduzi Municipality Mayor Zanele Hlatswayo highlighted the fact that the launch was held during the period of 16 Days of Activism on Violence Against Women and Children.

“This will enhance our fight against women and children abuse and we will also make our city safe for our tourists in 2010.”

She said the initiative would enlist community members’ help in creating a safer city.

SAPS Midlands area commissioner, director Tyrone Davis, said the police are behind the programme. “It will get people closer to us and we will be drawn closer to the people as well,” he said.

SAPS spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said it is “a brilliant idea”.

PCB president Zinhle Sokhela said the initiative would help to decrease crime. “It will work very well for the business community … The fact that the launch happens during the festive season, a time where crime is on the rise, will … make a huge difference”.

PCB chief executive officer Andrew Layman said that the SMSes and cameras would complement each other. It allows individuals in and around the capital to report crime or possible crime by sending a text message to a number linked to the Safe City control centre.

The campaign to launch the SMS programme encourages people to “report a crime before it happens”.

According to Safe City CEO Nutan Bhikha, the control centre will acknowledge all smses. “We will acknowledge receipt of your sms, but as criminal cases take time to build, we will not be able to report back a direct outcome.”

Operators are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “At any given time we have six operators and a supervisor,” said Bhikha.

A police officer is also always at the control centre. Areas installed with surveillance cameras include, Alan Paton Drive (Durban Road), Northdale and Raisethrope, Edendale and the CBD bordered by Victoria and Prince Alfred streets and from East to West Streets.

Safe City is a NPO working in partnership with various partners in the fight against crime. Some of the partners include Msunduzi Municipality, SAPS, National Prosecuting Authority, Community Policing Forums and Business Fighting Crime.

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