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Shotspotter is the City of Cape Town's costly and deadly mistake

22 March 2021 8:45 AM
Tags:
Cape Town
ShotSpotter technology
CT gang violence

Bought at a cost of R32million, the ShotSpotter technology is designed to identify where gunfire is coming from, and alert authorities to that area, but the body count tells a different story.

The effectiveness of the ShotSpotter technology acquired by the City of Cape Town at a cost of R32 million is being questioned, after the contract for the service expired in July 2019 and has yet to be renewed.

For a long time, Cape Town has been regarded as the murder capital of South Africa.

Gang warfare has plagued the Mother City for several decades, with Cape Town infamous across the world for the brutal killings on the Cape Flats.

Media regularly report on lives lost in running gun battles between rival gangs in communities like Lavender Hill, Ocean View, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Bonteheuwel and Mitchells Plain.

This is what prompted City of Cape Town bosses back in 2016, to buy and use the ShotSpotter system at a cost of about R32million.

The technology identifies when a gun has been fired, and can alert authorities to the area it was detected in, cutting down on response times.

The City of Cape Town told the fearful communities held hostage by gangs that this technology would ensure that Metro officers could respond quickly and efficiently to violence in their neighbourhoods.

But the body count in these communities speaks to its absolute failure, with hundreds of people still murdered on the Cape Flats over the past few years.

And now it has been reported that the City’s so-called lifesaving system has been switched off, once again leaving communities with little to no help from authorities.

The contract for the technology expired in July 2019 and has yet to be renewed.

Eldred De Klerk, a policing expert at the African Centre for Security and Intelligence Praxis says the process the City of Cape Town followed in acquiring the technology in 2016 was already problematic.

When ShotSpotter was bought, the process of acquiring that technology at that expense, was never really a part of the big public debate. For me it's an issue of good public governance, it was money spent from the public purse, money that should've been accounted for, and money that should've been negotiated before the spend. Now it's been silently shelved without any public process.

Eldred De Klerk - Policing expert at the African Centre for Security and Intelligence Praxis.

The City seems to want to engage in technology, rather than invest in the kind of relationship with vulnerable communities, where information sharing through that credible and trusted relationship with communities, which is much more reliable, which will lead to better analysis.

Eldred De Klerk - Policing expert at the African Centre for Security and Intelligence Praxis.

If they (City of Cape Town) provided essential services, they would understand where people are vulnerable. If they had men and women on the ground, they would understand which people are vulnerable. If they had a conversation with people through ward councilors, they would understand when people are vulnerable, what is happening and get information that would lead to analysis and hopefully lead to the prevention of further death and violence.

Eldred De Klerk - Policing expert at the African Centre for Security and Intelligence Praxis.

De Klerk however says Cape Town city bosses are not the only ones to blame for not protecting it's residents. He believes the City should shelve the technology, and reinvest the money in a more meaningful and effective system that can benefit these communities and city at large.

The City should be providing essential services and improving the quality of people's lives, and that's failing. Policing by definition, is both a verb and a noun. It's a much bigger thing that involves multiple agencies, including you an I just simply behaving.

Eldred De Klerk - Policing expert at the African Centre for Security and Intelligence Praxis.

I would shelve the program all together. Call it quits, say this is what we've learnt from it, and start investing in the essential, city based activities that allows for a better quality of life, and allows for the controlling everything from spaza shops, to SMME's that are not registered, because those are the little opportunities both making people money, but also for selling illicit goods, money laundering, and all those sort of things.

Eldred De Klerk - Policing expert at the African Centre for Security and Intelligence Praxis.

Listen to the audio of the interview below




22 March 2021 8:45 AM
Tags:
Cape Town
ShotSpotter technology
CT gang violence

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