Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi wants to launch a wide-ranging and costly crime-fighting initiative in South Africa’s economic heartland.

The plan includes over 500 remote-controlled aircraft (drones), eight helicopters, high-performance vehicles, and facial recognition cameras on every street.

According to the report, the goal is to have a police vehicle for every ward in a municipality.

This massive surveillance and emergency response network would be controlled from a central location the size of a soccer stadium.

Part of the design is panic button-like gadgets and smartphone apps that residents could activate when in danger.

Aside from combating crime, the plan will also create thousands of jobs, including provincial law enforcement personnel and potentially “crime prevention wardens”.

Gauteng MEC for finance Jacob Mamabolo is expected to announce the details and budget for executing the province’s crime-fighting plan on 24 November 2022.

Citing anonymous sources, the report stated that the plan would first be rolled out in townships.

This is because more affluent suburbs already have private security and other initiatives in place, like neighbourhood watches and community policing forums.

One of those private projects is Vumacam, which supports the Eyes and Ears Initiative — a coordinated joint crime-fighting initiative between the South African Police Service, Business Against Crime South Africa, and the private security industry.

Vumacam announced in June that it was investing R60 million to expand and maintain its network of 1,850 security cameras across Johannesburg.

Its roll-out includes 350 cameras in underserved areas such as Alexandra, Soweto, and Diepsloot.

This week, Vumacam released the results of a survey it conducted with Fletcher Advisory to gauge people’s perceptions of having CCTV installed around their neighbourhoods.

It also asked respondents to rank the importance of goods, services, and activities they spend money on.

Home security placed third, after “Having Internet access at home” and “Having high-speed fibre / fixed LTE for your home”.

Almost every respondent (99%) indicated they had been impacted by crime in their lives, and 83% expressed fears for their personal safety.

“On average, the majority of respondents supported the concept of SafeCity, and more collaboration between the SAPS, private security companies and the use of technology,” said Vumacam CEO Ricky Croock.

87% said they would like to see more coordinated public security initiatives to combat criminal behaviour.

“Of those who said they did not fear for their personal safety, 63% had access to a private security company and indicated they would call them in an emergency. Only 39% live in areas where there are CCTV cameras and 80% felt that CCTV is an effective tool to tackle crime.”