ShotSpotter project to crack down on gang violence in Cape Town shelved

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A gunfire detection system has been stopped due to budget constraints.
A gunfire detection system has been stopped due to budget constraints.
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  • The ShotSpotter initiative was introduced as a commitment to eliminate gangsterism and violence from Hanover Park and Manenberg in Cape Town. 
  • Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said due to budget constraints the project had been shelved until funding could be found.
  • The project cost the City of Cape Town R32 million and was designed in the US to help crack down on gang violence.

The City of Cape Town's ShotSpotter initiative that cost ratepayers R32 million, has been abandoned, according to Local Government and Environmental Affairs MEC Anton Bredell.

Bredell responded to a written provincial parliament question posed by GOOD general secretary Brett Herron.

READ MORE | Mandela Bay Metro police to roll out shot spotter technology

Herron asked: "With regard to the minister's answers to our questions for written reply (2 October 2020) about acoustic technology (ShotSpotter) for violence detection and reduction currently being used on the Cape Flats by the City of Cape Town."

Bredell responded: "No gunfire detection system is currently being used in the City of Cape Town."

ShotSpotter is a gunshot detection system, that, when used with surveillance video, can identify suspects. The ShotSpotter technology was introduced in 2016. It recorded 6 688 incidents of gunfire, according to Bredell.

The initiative was introduced as a commitment to eliminate gangsterism and violence from the communities of Hanover Park and Manenberg.

The technology was designed in the US to help crack down on gang violence.

READ MORE | 'Shot Spotters' becoming the ears of crime hotspots

Herron said: "It cost ratepayers R32 million, and was vigorously marketed by the City as a game-changer in reducing shooting crimes on the Cape Flats, but it has now been confirmed that Cape Town quietly abandoned its much-heralded ShotSpotter crime prevention project."

He said the money could have been spent on community-based organisations working to develop more caring people and safer communities.

WATCH | Shots fired as rival gangs clash in Cape Town

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said: "It hasn't been used for a while; the funding dried up. The Covid-19 dynamics entered and our budget was under assault. All the projects were stalled, it had to be put on pause, we will put it back online.

"We would like national government to fund this initiative because this is their mandate. Our funding is currently focusing on Covid-19 relief, but in the meantime, we are keeping our eye on the budget so that we can reprioritise our funds. The City lost over R2 billion in funds. It's tough for local government and municipalities."

Smith said it's not the cheapest technology and would hope for a local supplier to bid should a tender be issued.

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