Cape Town to crack down on prank callers

The City of Cape Town is planning to track down and prosecute prank callers, it said in a statement on Thursday.

The City’s Public Emergency Communications Centre receives an average of 280 prank calls a day, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith said.

“The calls range from emergency hoaxes to the vilest verbal abuse, but also, more disturbingly, calls of a very perverse nature.

“It is unacceptable that our operators who are there to do a very serious job have to endure this type of abuse with no recourse except to cut the call. It is also very unfair and potentially life-threatening to people with real emergencies who cannot get through or who are kept waiting because pranksters are clogging the lines,” he said.

Of the 532 682 calls answered by emergency operators in 2015, 102 217, or 20%, were prank calls.

Monthly statistics revealed an overage of just over 8 500 prank calls a month, with spikes in January, April and August.

Smith said that children were routinely blamed for the calls, but adults also abused the system, often with sexually explicit calls.

“Our system allows us to pick up exactly where the call is coming from, but it’s tricky when the perpetrator is using a public telephone,” Smith said.

“I have instructed the City’s Special Investigations Unit to extract information on the top 10 habitual offenders and lay charges in terms of national legislation that makes such prank and hoax calls to an emergency call centre an offence.

“A few well-publicised convictions will serve as a good deterrent if we can get them,” said Smith.


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Cape Town to crack down on prank callers