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Smile! You’re now on camera!

If you live in Montague Gardens and surrounds or are just passing through the area, smile – because you are on camera.

This after three years of intensive behind-the-scenes efforts, the first phase of CCTV cameras in the Montague Gardens Marconi Beam Improvement District (MMID) is live.

The first phase of the R2.1 million project has been unveiled on Friday 11 September, with 10 CCTV surveillance cameras installed in crime hot spot areas and traffic intersections.

Tony Pronk, head of security at MMID, said the special rating area came into effect after an armed robbery in 2013.

“There was an armed robbery in Montague Gardens and the business owner was murdered. His daughter was shot but survived. From then, there was quite a big uproar between the business owners. An unofficial business forum was started where people discussed what can be done. That’s when the SRA first began to take form and that is how the MMID came into effect,” Pronk said.

After discussing the CCTV camera pro­cess for over two years, including many delays as a result of Covid-19, the cameras have successfully been installed.

“We would have had the installion done in April this year and then Covid-19 knocked us. We are live today with the first five sites with 10 cameras. Everyone thinks CCTV cameras is all about crime and catching criminals, but we definitely want to use it in a more proactive way. We need to see what’s going on in the area, including illegal dumping which is a crime, and we also want to try and prevent that. Also possible traffic flow problems at intersections can be monitored. This is phase one and hopefully in another two months, we will be sitting on 30 to 40 cameras and the end goal is about 50. I’m saying ‘about’ because things do change. We’ve had problems with getting permission from some owners for installations on buildings and things have to be re-planned,” Pronk explained.

The camera feeds will be monitored from a control room at a site TygerBurger is unable to disclose.

Pronk added, “We have our own internal control room, so we can see what’s going on, but the main monitoring will be done by Astrosec. They will be doing the 24-hour monitoring.”

In addition, the MMID will be installing a thermal camera on the N7, alerting them of any movement coming into Montague Gardens.

“We are going to be looking at licence plate recognition (LPR) cameras. Also, most of the cameras have a type of loud hailer speaker mounted on it. Fang is doing the installation of all the cameras, the network and other equipment,” he said.

The cameras will record footage for about seven to 14 days and have a back-up hard drive, including back-up power.

Pronk added, “If Eskom goes down, the camera carries on recording, but there is a lot of technology around it. Even if the feed breaks, the camera will record. So, it has a very long memory.”

Asked what future plans the MMID has for the area, Pronk said they will continue to beautify the area and make it safe.

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