CCTV cameras deployed to help Cape Town’s ShotSpotter programme identify shooters

The City of Cape Town has announced it would now use CCTV cameras in conjunction with ShotSpotter technology in a bid to identify shooters in areas where the system is installed. “It is hoped that the beady electronic eyes could help identify and locate suspects involved in shooting incidents in areas where ShotSpotter is deployed,” the City said in a statement.

The statement said it has spent R12 million in this financial year to expand the technology, which detects gunshots and conveys the location to law enforcement, to cover a seven square kilometre radius in Hanover Park and Manenberg, hotspot crime areas. “ShotSpotter assists staff to respond to gun violence incidents. Its use has led to the successful apprehension of suspects and the confiscation of firearms and drugs. The system identifies areas where gun violence is active and assists with the planning of operations as it provides valuable information on prominent times and days when these shootings occur.”

In recent months, the City’s Strategic Surveillance Unit has started using CCTV as an additional intelligence-gathering tool. ShotSpotter provides the coordinates for shooting incidents that are fed into the CCTV system. City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith said there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of shooting incidents in the last two weeks.

“One of our challenges has been getting officers to the scene of shooting incidents detected by ShotSpotter. We said at the outset that the efficacy of the system would rely heavily on cooperation from SAPS. While there is certainly support for the ShotSpotter concept, the limited SAPS resources and response to alerts remains a challenge,” said Smith.
“With the increased use of CCTV to help identify shooters, we’re hoping that SAPS can use that footage to track down the suspects and bolster the odds of a conviction. Everything is about convictions and unless there are convictions, we will not improve the gang situation on the Cape Flats.”

In the first nine days of April, ShotSpotter detected 176 shooting incidents with a total of 505 rounds fired. Ninety percent of these were in Manenberg. The Strategic Surveillance Unit has handed over nearly 10 gigabytes of video footage to South African Police Service (SAPS) detectives to aid their investigations.