A tall, nondescript building in the Johannesburg CBD contains one of the most important rooms in the city, unbeknownst to the many citizens and cars that pass it.
It is the Johannesburg Metro Police Department and City of Johannesburg CCTV control room, and it is cited as one of the primary reasons why serious crime has dropped significantly in the CBD over the last few years.
“I can say that there is hasn’t been a bank robbery, neither an ATM or cash heist, in the CBD for the past five years,” metro police Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar told News24 at the control room on Thursday.
“Serious crime is definitely reduced. There is still opportunistic minor crime which happens. Bag snatching, pick pocketing, that type of stuff.”
CCTV has been used in the Johannesburg CBD for the last 14 years, with the control room set up in 2006 by Omega in conjunction with the city and metro police.
“Omega is the company which installs and maintains all of the CCTV cameras in the CBD of Joburg and also provides staff for monitoring of the cameras on a 24 hour basis, seven days a week,” Minnaar says.
“The cameras were initially just at strategic sites in the Joburg CBD. However, it has grown quite substantially and there are now over 400 cameras in the CBD and adjacent areas.”
According to Minnaar, this has helped metro police and law enforcement agencies “tremendously in helping to reduce serious crime”.
“We are very happy. I don’t think we would’ve made the progress we’ve done without the CCTV system,” he says.
The system costs the city around R20m a year, with at least 50 people inside the centre at any one time liaising with officers on the street.