The fight against crime has taken a new turn in Gauteng as the provincial government deploys technology and other sophisticated means to enhance the battle against this scourge. Drones, CCTV’s, helicopters, more boots on the ground and additions to police vehicles are on the ground to stop criminals.
Crime is getting more sophisticated by the day and law enforcements agencies need to deploy advanced ways to deal with it. This is the reason the Gauteng Provincial Government is deploying innovative technologies to fight crime in the province.
The Gauteng Department of e-Government and the Department of Community Safety are the delegated departments to roll out and implement these initiatives.
Crime statistics are showing that crime is on the rise in Gauteng
These initiatives will assist in defeating crime to create Gauteng into a safe and livable province. As part of these plans, the province will increase police presence through a Ward Based Intervention Model to ensure timeous response to reported crime incidents at ward level, interact with community structures and other sources to provide “early warning” —Community Intelligence gathering. These initiatives are meant to tackle “lawlessness” that has increased to levels that are unmanageable. This is visible through the quarterly crime statistics that are presented by the Provincial Commissioner of South African Police Service. According to Crime stats, high priority crime spots in Gauteng include, but not limited to – Olievenhoutbosch, Diepsloot, Tembisa, Kahlehong and Mamelodi. They also reveal that the province is inundated with crimes that are property related, theft of motor vehicles and burglaries at residential premises, carjacking, murder and robbery. The situation with crime in South Africa remains dire especially in relation to violent crime where it is reported that there are six times more murders than the global average. An emerging trend is the concentration and entrenchment of crime in the townships of South Africa.
More financial resources directed to acquiring the latest technology
Subsequently, the Premier of Gauteng Mr Panyaza Lesufi announced during the State of the Province Address earlier in the year that Gauteng will be deploying various technological initiatives to enhance the crime fighting ability of law enforcement. This includes the deployment of various methods which include high quality face recognition CCTVs, e-panic buttons, high caliber drones, integrated intelligence operation centre, tracking strategic assets of the state i.e. Gun tracking, deployment of crime fighting wardens and the purchasing of helicopters to augment on the existing fleet.
The Gauteng Department for e-Government, Research, and Development (e-Gov) has recently outlined its 2023/24 financial budget to focus on the acquiring of various technology apparatus to be used to fight crime. This follows the Gauteng Premier’s instruction for the Department to increase its financial efforts to procure needed technological interventions to combat crime. The Department’s budget has increased to R1.7 billion and bulk of these funds will be used to further digitize and modernize services provided by the Gauteng Provincial Government to include procuring needed technologies as part of implementing e-Policing in Gauteng.
Increased police visibility, more boots on the ground, helicopters and more police vehicles
To this end, the provincial government is continuously improving community policing and strengthening safety mechanisms within communities especially at identified crime hotspots. The Gauteng Department of Community Safety has recruited 6 000 Crime Prevention Wardens, they have been already deployed in the 361 townships, informal settlements, and hostels (TISH) wards. This is in line with the Department’s goal of improving police visibility and introducing the concept of ward-based policing at a local level. The wardens will augment the work of law enforcement officials and improve the response time to criminal incidents in hotspot areas. The Crime Prevention Wardens will ensure police visibility at ward level, ensure timeous response to reported crime incidents at ward level, interact with community structures and other sources to provide early warning Community Intelligence gathering, tackle lawlessness through heightened enforcement, prevent incidents of land invasion and illegal occupation of land, prevent incidents of damage to public and essential infrastructure and work with schools to provide necessary support and response.
The MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, e-Government, Research and Development, Mr Mzi Khumalo said the Department has started with the deployment of technological innovations to support law enforcement in Gauteng.
Khumalo added that the Premier had given the Department of e-Government and Department of Community Safety the responsibility to work together to improve crime fighting. “This is an important partnership and it shows that when combining our efforts we are able to achieve much more. We have managed to implement many of these initiatives in a very short space of time. I must say we have a highly driven Premier who believe is results,” Mr Khumalo said.
Mr Khumalo added that the world had already moved to a direction where technology is used to fight crime. “CCTV surveillance systems are being deployed in monitoring and tracking criminal activities, in aiding the law enforcement agencies to prevent crime and prosecute those that are involved in criminal activities. In some western countries police are already using body worn cameras to fight crime and monitor how police perform their duties. This is the route we want to take,” Khumalo said.
The Department has installed CCTV cameras in the following areas: Diepsloot, Tembisa, Kagiso, Khutsong, Tsakane, Ratanda, Sharpeville, Sebokeng, Boipatong, Mohlakeng, Krugersdorp, Mamelodi East and Atteridgeville. This includes the Gauteng Provincial Government owned hostels which are George Goch, Jeppe Hostel, Denver Hostel, MBA Hostel, Murray and Roberts Hostel, and Rethabile LTE Hostel.
The Acting Head of Department of the Department of e-Government: Dr. Darion Barclay said the Department’s e-Policing strategy included the implementation of e-panic buttons, technological tracking devices as well as a payment engine to turn GPG departments and its entities to being cashless.
“Our e-Policing strategy will also be providing technology for tracking every registered strategic asset of the state, which includes amongst others, vehicles and firearms to reduce crime, together with the development of a payment engine for cashless transactions for all GPG departments and entities. The Department is also in the process of acquiring drones. A pilot project for the online e-panic button for the Gauteng Province employees (nurses and teachers) who have been identified as some of the most vulnerable citizens and therefore more susceptible to crime is underway. For the purpose of this exercise, 6000 employees have been deployed to the identified groups. The e-panic button provides anyone in distress with access to law enforcement and emergency health services at the touch of a button,” Dr Barclay said.