How much it costs Cape Town to set up CCTV – and how successful they are at stopping crime

The City of Cape Town has announced that it is increasing the funding and footprint of its closed-circuit television network across the metro.

In a statement published earlier this week, the city said that camera installations for the 2017/18 financial year are being finalised, but by the end of June 2018, its strategic surveillance unit (SSU) will have overseen the installation of new CCTV infrastructure in 41 wards at a cost of R6,170,666.

This is in addition to R9.5 million made available through the Integrated City Development Grant and the Safety and Security Directorate for installations in Kraaifontein, Wallacedene and Bokmakierie in Athlone, it said.

“We’ve seen an increase in ward allocation funding for several years now as more councillors recognise the value of CCTV installations to help safeguard the communities they serve,” said the City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, Alderman JP Smith.

“It is important to acknowledge their contribution to extending our footprint; given the many competing priorities within the Safety and Security Directorate, we would not have been able to fund the CCTV expansion at the same rate without the ward allocations,” Smith said.

According to Smith, all CCTV installation costs vary according to the requirements for the site, especially related to the infrastructure that is available in the area to relay the images to the CCTV control centre. One CCTV site can cost between R250,000 to R350,000.

“The new installations have taken the City’s overall CCTV network to a total of 1,544 cameras,” he said.

These include:

  • Freeway Management System: 239
  • Integrated Rapid Transit System: 711
  • Metro Police Strategic Surveillance Unit: 594
  • Private camera installations by the city: 513


According to Smith, in the first nine months of the current financial year (July – March), the CCTV system detected 10,646 incidents – of which, over 3,000 were crime-related, resulting in 152 arrests for various offences including robbery, drug possession, smash-and-grab crimes, burglary and more.

He added that the the CCTV footage is stored in data centres across the city and is available to the South African Police Service should they need it for investigation purposes.

“In recent months, the city has also started using CCTV cameras in conjunction with its ShotSpotter gunshot detection system to help identify suspects in shooting incidents in the areas where the ShotSpotter system is deployed,” he said.

“There is no doubt about the crucial role that CCTV plays in crime prevention and detection, which is why the City continues to invest in the technology. That said, it is not without challenges. Often, there are simply not enough resources to respond timeously to incidents detected by camera operators, whether by our own staff or the South African Police Service.”

“Cable theft is another ongoing concern that has affected our ability to keep all cameras on, all the time. We do, however, have functionality rates of approximately 90%, which is on par with best practice internationally.

“We have started experimenting with wireless technology, but the quality is not as good as fibre optic cables, nor is it as reliable,” he said.

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How much it costs Cape Town to set up CCTV – and how successful they are at stopping crime