Criminals beware: Closed circuit television may soon be monitoring your every move. It is hoped that within the next two months, with the help of fundraising, CCTV cameras will be installed to lower the incidence of crime in the Athlone CBD as well as its surrounding areas.
The project is being spearheaded by the recently established Athlone City Improvement District (AthCid).
Captain Andre Venter, spokesperson for the Athlone Police Station, says this will essentially be a "big project wherein the police will be fully co-operative".
"There will definitely be a big reduction in crime in the area as the cameras will be manned on a 24-hour basis," he says.
He says the police's aim is to reduce response time to minutes, even seconds, and that the surveillance team and the police will work together in close proximity.
"We will see to it that proper training will be given to those who will man the surveillance televisions."
According to Venter, the project will operate from Klipfontein to Aden Roads and other roads in the vicinity.
"We have met with business people from the Athlone area and have pin-pointed crime hot spots where we would like to have CCTV cameras installed."
Venter believes the project will reap great rewards in terms of safety. "I know the initiative will make a difference in the reduction of crime within the specific areas."
Sumaya Taliep, deputy president of the Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry and chairperson of the Athlone City Improvement District Steering Committee, says there is still "a lot of work to be done" before the cameras will be installed.
"We have already made a proposal to the city and we are still waiting for it to be put onto the agenda for consideration."
She says a professional survey of where the cameras will be installed as well as how much they will cost has been conducted.
"It will cost about R2 million. We are hoping that the city will finance the project and if there's a shortfall, we will look at possible sponsors."
Taliep adds that she will be doing a high level presentation on 16 August to the city, executive city councillors and senior council officials about the plans.
Athlone ward councillor Mustapha Murudker says the installation and effectiveness of the cameras will work "to a certain extent".
"People are very brazen and if they decide to do something, they will do it," Murudker says.
"Potential criminals might relocate and move to an area not covered by cameras. But it is essential for the community to become involved in law enforcement and the battle to eradicate crime by reporting any suspicious behaviour to the authorities."
However, he says he is in total support of the operation. "It was approved by council and it is in the interest of the upliftment of Athlone. It will definitely be a deterrent and make people think twice.
"At least we will now be able to follow up on crimes if the surveillance team is properly structured."