The George Municipality's Closed Circuit Surveillance Cameras are in place and the system is running in its trial test phase.
Inset: George Council's Community Safety Councillor Iona Kritzinger in the closed circuit network camera surveillance control room. With her is acting head of Community Safety, Barend Nelson (Photo: Pauline Lourens).
Speaking at the control centre of the system, Mr Barend Nelson, acting head of Community Security said staff are currently being appointed to commence with the monitoring of the new transport system that is being introduced, in co-operation with the Department of National Transport. Twenty cameras are already in place in the CBD area and they will run on a 24/7 basis, once the system is fully operational. He was hoping that the surveillance system would be operational before the end of the year.
Some technical hitches will have to be overcome in the next phase in which 22 cameras will be introduced, of which 13 will be trained on crime hot spots. (It is expected that the cameras will be linked to the eNatis system for easy tracing of motorists who have committed offences).
One such technical hitch is the camera at Victoria Bay where the wireless system is being hampered by high tension wiring.
"We are hiring 20 new staff members, most of whom are disabled, to man the operating room for the surveillance cameras and negotiations are underway to ensure that there will be a policeman on duty alongside our own staff, to ensure that appropriate reactions to crime incidents can be triggered," said Mr Nelson.
"It must be remembered that our staff are essentially here in a capacity to monitor and enforce municipal bylaws. The policing task remains that of the South African Police Services."
Community Safety portfolio councillor Mrs Iona Kritzinger said the DA-controlled Council is strongly in favour of introducing a Metro police force to strengthen, and aid the SAPS in their duties, but the ANC government is in favour of phasing out the Metro police system.
She said that she was aware that the manpower in the municipal community safety force was inadequate but Council is hampered by lack of funds to strengthen their numbers. Mrs Kritzinger said for this reason she was going to see the head of police in Cape Town to impress on him that more policemen were needed in George. The deployment of police is based on crime statistics, and it is for this reason that she had been driving home the fact that the police should submit the correct figures.
In July this year, Mrs Kritzinger hit the headlines after stating on an RSG SABC radio programme discussion on crime that "Crime had escalated out of control in George," and that although there is a dedicated force, they were under staffed.
During the George Herald's visits, Mr Nelson said a brand-new, state-of-the-art call centre would also in the near foreseeable future become operational, adjacent to the CCTV Control Centre in Mitchell Street, where all service calls would be handled. Telkom lines are now urgently awaited.
* Die George-Munisipaliteit se geslotekringkameras word tans in gereedheid gebring vir die monitering van die nuwe vervoerstelsel in samewerking met die nasionale department van vervoer. In die volgende fase sal 13 van die kameras op misdaadkolle toegespits word. Tans word personeel aangestel om die beheerkamer te beman, waarvan die meeste mense met gestremdhede sal wees.
By Pauline Lourens