South Africa’s economic hub is “going high-tech” to combat crime, which it dubs the country’s number one enemy, avers Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi.
No stone will be left unturned and every technology available must be leveraged to push back on crime in Gauteng, he told delegates at the Huawei Eco Connect summit, held in Johannesburg, in July.
If crime, lawlessness and corruption are not eliminated, there is no future for the country.
“Until we deal with this one particular matter, powerfully and fearlessly, and use all the available resources we have at our disposable, whatever future for Gauteng – whatever for future South Africa – we are dreaming about, we are not going to achieve.”
The crime statistics paint a grim picture and the high level of crime in the province can no longer be tolerated.
To mitigate the crime scourge, Lesufi said that the budget for policing increased from R700-million last year to R4.7-billion this year, with plans to increase this further to R8-billion next year, to deploy advanced technologies in crime mitigation strategies.
Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements and Infrastructure Development Lebogang Maile, who also spoke at the Eco Connect summit, said that crime is getting more sophisticated by the day and requires law enforcement agencies to deploy advanced ways to curb it.
“The provincial government has tasked the Department of Community Safety and the Department of eGovernment to seek new ways of dealing with crime.”
In line with this, the province is deploying various high-tech information and communication technology equipment and new interventions to be used by law enforcement, including high-calibre closed-circuit television (CCTV), facial and number plate recognition technology, drones and vehicle and weapon tracking.
CCTV surveillance systems are currently being rolled out in crime hot spot areas to monitor, identify and track criminals, with 69 of an initial 144 target already installed.
“On every street, in every city, [across] every part of our province, we want to see high-definition, facial and vehicle recognition CCTV surveillance installed in all our communities in Gauteng,” Lesufi added.
This will assist in the identification and tracking of individuals who have committed crimes.
Further, the province is set to leverage drones, particularly to assist in areas police cannot access, while six new sophisticated helicopters that will track “everything that is happening” in Gauteng have been acquired.
Further, 6 000 young people have been allocated to be deployed to monitor and police every corner of the province, Lesufi noted.
Maile added that software to track motor vehicles involved in crimes is also being installed.
In addition, Gauteng has developed an e-panic button for smartphones that will provide anyone in trouble with access to law enforcement and emergency medical services assistance.
The application, which will eventually be available to every citizen, has more than 4 000 people using it, mostly Gauteng employees, nurses and teachers.