Confusion over cameras

2019-01-29 06:01

Following the launch of a camera operating room in Grassy Park at the end of last year, a neighbourhood watch tasked with helping its functionality is questioning its efficiency.

Ralph Tejada, vice-chairperson of Corolla Neighbourhood Watch and active member of the local community policing forum (CPF), claims they were left in the dark about the launch of the operating room after helping the City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security Directorate identify the correct areas to place the surveillance cameras during a site visit last year. As reported, (“Cameras to keep eye on crime”, People’s Post, 11 December 2018) the camera room houses neighbourhood watches from three wards (65, 66 and 110). “We just heard a month later that 30 people have been trained to monitor the cameras. We found it very strange that only these people were trained; why was this not communicated with us? We did all the groundwork from day one. I felt it was important to communicate that with us,” says Tejada.

Ward 110 councillor and chairperson of subcouncil 18, Shanen Rossouw, confirmed that her ward established the room, as her entire ward allocation for safety had been spent on it. To save costs, she suggested to councillors Patricia van der Ross (ward 65) and William Akim (ward 66) that it would be better for them to share the camera room established in ward 110 in the meantime.

Rossouw confirmed that total control of the camera operation room was handed over to the neighbourhood watches from her area. She also validated Tejada’s claim that she had threatened to remove the cameras from those wards that fail to help man the camera operating room. “I told them in the council and CPF meeting, because they expect other neighbourhood watches must watch their cameras, if they do not want to monitor their own cameras then I will take out the cameras. Whereas my people can watch my ward intensively, they can’t, because they have to watch ward 65’s and 66’s cameras as well,” she said.

However, Rossouw reiterated that not just anyone is allowed to enter the room, let alone operate it. “You are not allowed to come into the camera room if you did not go through the training, if you did not go through the screening and police clearance,” she said, adding that if complications arise, the respective ward councillors should look at establishing their own camera operating room dedicated to their specific wards and run it their own way.

“I’m not involved, so they can’t blame me. I handed it over to capable people in my ward and if they don’t have a good relationship with them, it is not my problem. They need to deal with their issues, because they need to move on,” she said.

Tejada also feels there should be extra support given to help man the room in view of the fact that all the neighbourhood watch members are volunteers who work during the day. “The cameras should have been helping us during the day at least. We do our patrols at night. We do our patrols over weekends – Friday nights until the early hours of the morning. That is where I feel the cameras should have filled in that gap at least, but during the day the cameras are pointing nowhere, and they are not serving their purpose at all. We always wanted the cameras to work for the community.”

Rossouw said that they are looking at filling the gaps in operations, but she feels egos are getting in the way. The room can accommodate up to 25 people at any time, in its current form. “I told all the chairpersons of all the neighbourhood watches – you run the camera room, you take charge. They (ward 65) were included. Ward 66 is still struggling to get their people on board, but they will come on board, but there are egos. Now I don’t have time to stroke people’s egos. I said it in the CPF meeting and I am going to say it again: If they do not come to the party, it is not our problem. We are going to move forward,” she said.

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