This was revealed by the City’s Mayco Member for Safety and Security JP Smith, who said in a meeting with the police last week that the City aims to test drones within the next two months.
Smith confirmed and elaborated on the City’s plans. He said that different departments within the City – metro police, disaster management, fire and rescue and engineering departments – have had to spend money on hiring helicopters for aerial surveillance.
The acquisition of a drone (for about R600 000) could be more cost-effective. Drones would be used to monitor land occupations, crime, scrap yards suspected of harbouring stolen copper, shack fires and disasters.
Sofar, two companies are set to demonstrate their products to the City in the near future. Drones are already widely in use in South Africa – in commercial filming, anti-poaching operations and for recreational use.
In June, a Pretoria-based company, Desert Wolf, made international headlines for developing a drone (marketed as a “riot control copter”) that could spray tear gas and fire rubber bullets at protesters. At the time, the company revealed that an unnamed mining company had ordered 25 such units.
However, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has warned that, in the absence of legal guidelines for drone use, operators are breaking the law when flying these devices.
Smith said that he is aware of the current restrictions on drone use. The City already has a comprehensive closed-circuit television (CCTV) system, which it uses to monitor crime, including social protests.
Credit: My Broadband