/ 14 December 2022

ShotSpotter redeployed on Cape Flats, detects 224 shots in first two weeks

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The City of Cape Town has awarded a R30-million contract for three years to combat crime in ganglands.

The gunshot detection system, ShotSpotter, has returned to Hanover Park on the Cape Flats amid a recent surge in shootings between rival gangs over the past few weeks. 

It detected 68 gunfire incidents and 224 fired shots within two weeks.

The technology detects gunshots, locates where shooting has occurred and sends out an alert within seconds to law enforcers.

Hanover Park was at the top of the list to receive the device after the City of Cape Town procured the system in July. It was first introduced to the Cape Flats in July 2016 and operated until 2019. 

Following delays caused by “administrative processes” the system began operating at the start of December. 

“We are pleased to be re-deployed … and look forward to assisting the City of Cape Town and its metro police department in collaboration with SAPS [South African Police Service] in responding more effectively to gun violence in this and other vulnerable communities,” chief executive Ralph Clark said in a statement.

Police Minister Bheki Cele has previously said the technology has “both a proactive and reactive value and enhances policing in gang-infested hotspots”.

The Mail & Guardian contacted Cele’s office to determine whether there were plans for ShotSpotter to be implemented on a national level, but had not received a response at the time of writing.

Areas such as Manenberg, where gang-related shootings resulted in more than 10 deaths in the first two weeks of December, are earmarked for the rollout of ShotSpotter.

JP Smith, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, previously told the M&G that the quick response to shooting incidents helped build trust between the city and residents. Because of a “consistent and reliable response” to gunshot incidents, the city still receives tip-offs from residents in areas where the detection system was previously used, he said.

The Hanover Park community policing forum (CPF) has said it opposes the project because of the large amount of money spent on it. The city procured the gunshot detection system at a cost of R10-million annually and the tender will run for three years. 

CPF spokesperson Kashiefa Mohammed said the multi-million project had never led to any convictions and murderers still roamed the streets.

“We don’t want ShotSpotter. We will refuse ShotSpotter,” said Mohammed. “ShotSpotter was never beneficial to our people. Invest in the unemployment and in the youth of this community. Our youth is turning into gangsters. That is our major problem in Hanover Park.” 

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis and Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile have welcomed the redeployment of the gunfire detection system.