Although some would view the use of CCTV surveillance in cities as a panacea to preventing crime or deterring it, there is a strong belief amongst many that its use is an intrusion with visions of Orwellian “Big Brother” invading personal privacy.
It is quite a norm that some commercial and semi-public establishments such as banks, malls, and stores use closed circuit TV to record who comes into their location, a certain percentage of the public is by now used to being on surveillance. Many governments across the world now employ CCTV technology to monitor their streets, with the hopes of detecting or deterring crime. Gaborone will soon join the list of controlled cities, according to President Lt Gen, Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
In his State of the Nation Address early this week, the President announced that the Botswana Police Service “is at an advanced stage in the process of introducing a Safer City programme in order to build capacities for policing the city of Gaborone by means of closed circuit television technology.”
Although no further information was shared with regards to the programme. The president assured that such a programme will address the efficiency of the response processes as well as speed up the investigation and detection of crime and it will be cascaded to other areas of need over time.
Botswana is in dire need of crime mitigation, as it is. Over the years, violent crime, including smash and grabs, muggings, armed robberies, home invasions have significantly increased. CCTV technology has been employed the world over for crime control purposes. In South Africa, where the system costs the Joburg municipality R20 million a year, its installation in the mid 2000s in the Johannesburg CBD is said to have resulted to lessened crime activity in the area, in the past 14 years. The system also, according to online reports is instrumental in curbing corruption. Footage can be used to provide strong evidence of motorists who bribe police officers, the reports claim.
In 2012, Kenya also strategically placed cameras at its metropolis, Nairobi to beam the streets, in a Sh400 million project sponsored by the Nairobi Central Business District Association, police and the Nairobi City Council, Business Day reported.
In the US, the Department of Homeland Security distributes millions of dollars annually as grants for state and local agencies to invest in modern video surveillance technologies. New York alone already has close to a million CCTV cameras while Chicago plans to have a surveillance camera interconnected with a centralised monitory centre on every street corner by 2016. London is home to more than 1.85 million CCTV cameras strategically placed across the city.
However critics argue that the millions used to install CCTV should rather be channelled to street lighting, proper policing and mobilising police officers for easy patrolling. Recently, residents of Block 6 in Gaborone, whose crime statistics seemingly have shot through the roofs have called on to the city council to restore the street lights in that location. Police in Botswana are also unable to carry out patrols due to lack of patrol vehicles.
For some CCTV technology is a “quick fix” to crime busting.The UK, thugh regarded the world’s most watched city still experiences alarming cases of terrorism attacks, along with the US, which too has the largest number of cameras in almost its cities.
Marcus Kebaabetswe Oletile, a resident of Gaborone however believes that CCTV always plays the perfect snitch, as with video footage available, there wouldn’t be need for witnesses who are in most cases afraid of coming up front. He adds that the footage could also be of use in National security matters. Hendrika Stegling however thinkx that installing CCTV cameras would be somewhat an invasion of privacy, “Invasion of privacy would be a biggy, but crime wise it’s beneficial,” the IT graduate said.
Also in the case of Botswana, where power outages are the order of the day, some worry about the efficiency of the system, once installed. “It won’t make sense to install CCTV when there is no power, they won’t work,” opined Stu Mphafe.
Furthermore, Mphafe worries about the amount of money that would gp towards the programme, when there are more serious issues like water shortage. “It doesn’t make sense to have CCTV when people are all thirsty.”
Government will have to consider seriously who provides the services. Early this year, Business Day reported that CCTV cameras on the streets of Nairobi would have to be upgraded as they “cannot capture reliable images to pin down criminals and traffic offenders.” The cameras were installed by a Chinese company, after it won a tender to install the 51 cameras, Business Day cited.
The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.
WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?
Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed. This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.
In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’ The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.
Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama).
Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.