Gauteng spending R1.7 billion on mass camera surveillance, drones, and other crime-fighting tech

The Gauteng Department of e-Government has provided more information on some of the technology it plans to procure to fight crime in the province.

The details were shared by MEC for e-Government, Research, and Development, Mzi Khumalo, during a session of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature on Thursday, 25 May 2023.

Khumalo said that effective “e-policing” would be greatly prioritized in the department’s allocated budget of over R1.7 billion.

“Amongst other projects, the department has sought to prioritize the procurement and management of crime-fighting technologies to establish e-policing for the Gauteng Province,” the department said.

“This comes after the department’s mandate was expanded in 2022 by the new administration led by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, to include innovating and developing technologies that can boost law enforcement in fighting and combatting crime.”

Among these technologies, the department wants to deploy CCTV cameras across every major road, business centre and other hotspot areas with the potential for crime.

For this deployment, it will prioritize Townships, Informal Settlements, and Hostels (TISH).

The reason for this approach is that many affluent suburbs already had surveillance coverage from private companies — like Vumacam.

Secondly, the province plans to procure high-quality drones for use by law enforcement.

When fitted with cameras, drones have proven to be an effective complementary tool to help private security companies like Fidelity catch criminals and deter them from committing crimes in the first place.

Mzi Khumalo, MEC for e-Government, Research, and Development, speaking during a meeting of the Gauteng Provincial Government on Thursday, 25 May 2023.

The department will also acquire tracking technology to keep tabs on vehicles, firearms, and other assets used to fight crime to enhance oversight over its strategic assets.

The province previously also punted a plan to give residents electronic panic buttons to quickly contact emergency services when they are in distress.

Gauteng MEC for Transport Jacob Mamabolo previously said that R173 million had been allocated for this purpose, in addition to buying drones, vehicles, and recruiting “peace wardens”.

It is unclear whether the  R173 million formed part of the R1.7 billion budget announced by Khumalo.

The e-panic button idea has also been punted by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, who explained the buttons would be linked to law enforcement agencies, CCTV, and a new state-of-the-art Integrated Command Centre.

A tender for the panic buttons has already been published, and submissions for it closed in late March 2023.

The Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) is one of a few organizations that expressed support for the idea and has applied to be one of the e-panic button providers.

However, it has proposed that the government rather use its CASI mobile app with a built-in panic button as a more realistic option to reach the largest number of residents possible.

Khumalo also listed several other projects to which the e-Government department would commit the rest of its budget, including:

  • The development of a payment engine for cashless transactions for all Gauteng Provincial Government departments and entities.
  • Continuing to deliver services on the Gauteng Broadband Network,  providing Wi-Fi connectivity to schools, libraries, hospitals, community centres, and hostels.
  • New digitized services for Gauteng residents that they can access digitally with computers or smartphones.
  • Building the necessary ICT skills capacity for Gauteng through the provision of accredited skills training programmes. Will specifically target youth, women and people with disabilities in TISH areas. 12,000 youth are anticipated to benefit from the programme in 2023.

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Gauteng spending R1.7 billion on mass camera surveillance, drones, and other crime-fighting tech