CRIMINALS operating in the East London CBD and along the beachfront have eyes in the sky to think about now.
Buffalo City Metro (BCM) is spending R1.7-million on installing 15 CCTV cameras in the centre of town and seven along the beachfront in a bid to fight crime.
The move has been welcomed by police, tourism officials and businesses.
BCM this week announced that workers are already busy with the installations.
Although the metro would not disclose the location of the cameras, nor details on how the system would be monitored or when the cameras would be operational, Mayor Zukiswa Ncita said at the launch of the project two years ago that the cameras would be placed at crime hotspots such as Buffalo Street.
Asked this week for further details, BCM spokesman Keith Ngesi said: “We cannot disclose detailed information on the project yet because it will expose the safety plans to potential criminals.
“We will announce the roll-out once the whole planning is done. We really cannot get into details of the control rooms and positioning of cameras.”
BCM said the new cameras were augmenting the R3-million surveillance system at Mdantsane Highway which is connected to an off-site control room based at the Fleet Street fire station complex.
East London police spokesman Colonel Mtati Tana said the cameras would go a long way to help curb crime.
“Burglary on business property, theft of vehicles, theft out of vehicles and smash and grabs are rife in these areas,” Tana said.
Crime stats for East London for the 2012/2013 reporting period showed that a total of 505 cases of burglary at non-residential premises were reported and 179 vehicles were reported stolen, while 745 cases of theft out of vehicles and 30 cases of robbery were opened in non-residential areas.
“With this system we will be able to respond to such incidents,” said Tana.
He declined to comment on specifics until BCM officially launched the project.
Wimpy beachfront owner Norman Thorne said a number of vehicles had been broken into in the area. “Hopefully these cameras will make a huge difference,” he said.
Earlier this week the vehicles of three municipal officials were broken into while they were attending a meeting at a beachfront hotel .
Councillor Derek Green said valuable items such as his laptop were stolen from his car.
“When I got out of the meeting I realised my car had been broken into and later discovered two other cars belonging to my colleagues parked in the same vicinity were broken into as well,” Green said.
The Border Kei Chamber of Business (BKCOB) said the CCTV project was long overdue and would make the city and beachfront a safer place.
Executive director Les Holbrook said potential investors were very conscious of crime statistics and expected a high level of safety, especially along the beaches.
“Visitors and tourists would feel much more confident knowing that they are being monitored and there is a reaction squad standing by, because without a reaction squad the cameras are not much use,” Holbrook said.
The project was initiated after an East London police cluster commander, Major-General Sandile Hloba, wrote a letter to mayor Ncitha in 2012 calling for the installation of CCTV cameras.
In the letter that was tabled before council at the time, Hloba advised Ncitha that the only way to deal with crime in the city centre and the Esplanade was through the CCTV cameras.
The tender for the project was awarded to Cedza Security Technologies Ltd in November last year.
Cedza is the same company contracted by King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality to install cameras in Mthatha. After the installation, a municipal officer was found guilty of issuing the tender without following proper procedures. — firstname.lastname@example.org