Mayor Ndlela hails Safe City project after clean audit

2014-09-05 00:00

THE Safe City CCTV surveillance project in Pietermaritzburg is on top of its game.

It achieved a clean audit from the auditor-general and is recognised as the best such facility in the country.

Mayor Chris Ndlela yesterday presented a trophy to Safe City chairperson and director Zinhle Sokhela on behalf of South Africa’s Auditor-General Kimi Makwethu. The project was one of eight municipal entities in the country and one of four in KZN to achieve clean audits.

The other KZN entities that received clean audits were Durban’s marine theme park, and the uThungulu House Development Trust and uThungulu Financing Partnership in Richards Bay.

The presentation took place at the Msunduzi executive committee (Exco) meeting yesterday, with councillors lavish in their praise.

Bill Lambert borrowed a phrase previously used by the mayor, telling the Safe City team: “The whole city bestows upon you a shower of accolades.”

Sokhela said while many of the big cities had CCTV surveillance systems with far more cameras, very few of those were functioning.

She said Safe City had 70 cameras and they ensured that all were in working order. Sokhela added that there was also an excellent working relationship among the partners in the project — the municipality, Business Fighting Crime, the police and the National Prosecuting Authority.

Lambert said the project’s successes could be used to market Pietermaritzburg as a “Safe City”, and to attract investors.

Ndlela said Safe City provided value for money and asked what the project needed, now that the municipality’s finances were on a better footing.

Sokhela provided a wish-list, including more manpower in the traffic department so that Safe City could use its number plate recognition system.

Safe City general manager Lucas Holtzhauzen explained that the system could be used with any of their cameras. It was linked to the national vehicle registration database and could tell if a car was stolen, licensed or had outstanding fines. He said the extra manpower was needed for roadblocks to pick up errant drivers.

Sokhela reminded councillors that Safe City generated R45 million from traffic offenders when the system operated in the eight months to June 2011. However, since then there had been a decline because of the manpower challenges. She told Exco she believed there was still around R12 million in outstanding fines waiting to be collected.

Other items on Sokhela’s wish-list included cameras that could be installed at electricity sub-stations to stem cable theft, and more cameras for larger suburbs like Edendale and Northdale.


What is Safe City?

It is a non-profit organisation dedicated to making Pietermaritzburg a safe and secure city.

Projects include the installation and monitoring of 70 CCTV cameras throughout the city. Some cameras are mobile and can be moved around. There is an SMS programme that encourages people to report suspicious behaviour and activities. c-Safe is a panic alert system accessible from cellphones.

The CCTV control room operates 24/7 and all incidents are recorded, stored securely and made available to the police and National Prosecuting Authority to use for prosecutions.

There is a dedicated court (K court) for all CCTV-related cases.

Safe City general manager Lucas Holtzhausen has been invited by other municipalities and organisations to talk about the project. Some statistics that he shares:

Total number of incidents detected — 5 318

Total police responses — 1 762

Average police response time — six minutes

Number of arrests made — 194

Footage sent to court — 119

Robbery arrests made — 82

Possession of stolen property arrests

— 50

Theft out of motor vehicles

arrests — 16

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