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Cape Town – A local pastor with international links to artificial technology is calling on the City of Cape Town to allow a drone pilot project to assist with arrests and convictions in Delft.
Earlier this year, Delft was named one of the top 10 murder capitals in the Western Cape when the national crime statistics were released.
A total of 46 murders were recorded in the suburb between January and March this year.
Pastor Charles George, chairperson of the Delft community police forum, also runs Grace’s Feeding Scheme, and heads Zoe Family Church and Home of Compassion College, which runs programmes for the unemployed, teaching them 21st technology skills.
George is calling for a modernised drone, which is custom-made in Belgium, to be used to fight crime. The drone records thousands of hours of footage and is able to do voice recognition and recordings and facial recognition.
He said CCTV footage cameras were outdated and only showcased one angle, often losing images which could secure an arrest.
“If a camera is locked on to one section, and the person comes from another angle, you are unable to see his face. So with drones, your eye in the sky is the solution. There is no other solution. We are in a war and no war can be won if you don’t have air support. It records facial recognition and voice and shows all angles.”
He added that a tuk-tuk vehicle with a television on board can be used by the local neighbourhood watch.
“The tuk-tuk drives in front and we can have young people on board who are trained to use a drone and control it,” George said.
He flies the drone ahead of the “vehicle where the naked eye cannot see”, the footage is brought back to the tuk-tuk, and the neighbourhood watch captain is connected via WhatsApp and live channels.
“They see the footage and hear what is happening, then we get all residents on board as neighbourhood watch members by being part of the app system, that is the future.
“This will then notify the local law enforcement agencies, for example even if the person has an expired car licence that could be picked up.”
He added that the area was near the Cape Town International Airport, and that he knows drones are illegal especially in such terrains.
“The capability of the drone would be able to tell you by the footage how someone walks, whether they are armed. The communication would have to be done with the airport when drones are being flown and when it is not allowed.”
George added that Delft had no City of Cape Town CCTV cameras to aid in fighting crime.
“We have been fighting that for years with the City, to get their eyes here in our hot spots.”
But Mayco member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, said five CCTV footprint cameras were placed at local schools in the community and the installation was completed in the 2019/2020 financial year.
Smith added the use of drones were not regulated by the City of Cape Town municipality, as Delft was close to the airport and could compromise air traffic control.
“The use of drones is not regulated at municipal level. This authority resides with the Civil Aviation Authority. It must be noted that Delft’s proximity to Cape Town International Airport makes it possibly the worst area to fly drones without compromising air traffic.”
CCTV belonging to the City detected nearly 6 200 incidents between January and June 2020.
Alleged criminal acts were 35.6% of all incidents detected, with 115 arrests ranging from possession of drugs, theft of motor vehicles to breaking and entering and robbery.
Gopolang Peme, media specialist at Airports Company South Africa, said they did not have the domain with drones.
“We do not have regulations around drone. We operate flights. Government does regulations,” Peme said.