Ricochet News

When you thought you were safe - Hundreds of the Bay's public CCTV cameras actually out of order

By Afikile Lugunya - Jun 20, 2018
When you thought you were safe - Hundreds of the Bay's public CCTV cameras actually out of order

For the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay, knowing that someone somewhere is watching over them as they go about their daily business thanks to the City's network of street CCTV cameras, has given many a great sense of safety - except that they may not be as safe as they would like to believe.

Only less than 30% of the Metro's street CCTV camera's are actually working or watching over you. 

This emerged following an incident that happened to your correspondent at the Donkin Park in Central, Port Elizabeth. While your correspondent was on a lunch break in the park, she was approached by a bloodied man, who claimed he had just stabbed someone and that the police were after him. He 'politely' asked for bus fare to Korsten, fearing for her own safety, she gave him the money and as he left, she hurried back to the office.

Your correspondent wondered if there was a way of accessing the footage of the incident as there are two street CCTV cameras near the park. Imagine her surprise, when she learnt that they do not work - and there are hundreds of others that do not work as well.  

According to Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Spokesman, Mthubanzi Mniki, R400 million was spent in setting up the CCTV network about 10 years ago.

"Note that this includes the CCTV cameras, early warning, fibre cable laying, security fencing, access control, camera poles, computer hardware and security systems," he described.

Mniki revealed that there are 1 167 street CCTV cameras dotted across the Metro.

"Installation commenced in 2007/8 and most of these cameras have now reached the end of their lifespan," he said.

"Currently, there are 262 cameras still working, but most are coming to the end of their lifespan. The Metro has also public/private partnerships with an additional 104 cameras currently being monitored."

It remains anyone's guess as to where the cameras that are still working are located.

However, Mniki reassured that the Metro is working to fix the situation. 

“A tender spec is currently being prepared. It is envisaged that within the next two months, a tender spec will go out on a tender for a new contract," he said.

According to Mniki, all the CCTV cameras were once working.

"All CCTV cameras were operational, but as with all electronic hardware, this requires constant maintenance and replacement of ageing equipment."

Asked if the current CCTV cameras were being fixed, Mniki responded: "Currently, there is no contract in place and that is the reason for preparing a new specification for tender. Further, noting that, as previously stated, most of the cameras will require replacing as they are nearing or have reached the end of their lifespan."

He added that over the 10-year period, the CCTV cameras helped to address crime in the Metro.

"The cameras have assisted with law enforcement, having a direct impact on the reduction of crime in areas where there is CCTV, primarily acting as a deterrent," Mniki described.

"However, footage has also successfully been used in court to assist with the conviction of criminals.”