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Traffic cops who switch off cameras will be disciplined

Fikile Mbalula/ Twitter
Fikile Mbalula/ Twitter

Traffic police officers who switch off their body cameras without a valid reason will face disciplinary action. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation media liaison, Simon Zwane, the camera can be switched on remotely from the control room or by the supervisor should an officer decide to switch it off.

Zwane was commenting following the official launch of a new project by the Department of Transport. Just before Easter, the Department announced that traffic officers would be issued with body cameras to support them in evidence gathering and improve conviction rates for violations of traffic laws.

Speaking during the launch, Deputy Transport Minister, Dikeledi Magadzi, said cameras will act as a deterrent for corruption and prevent officers from soliciting or accepting bribes from motorists. She said every interaction a traffic law enforcement officer has with a motorist will be recorded.

READ: Dozens killed on SA roads over Easter weekend

“Starting this Easter, there will be nowhere to hide for those who live beyond their means and finance their lavish lifestyles through bribes, at the expense of the law-abiding citizens on the roads. Traffic law enforcement will stop being an enrichment scheme for the unethical, unscrupulous, greedy and corrupt officers who undermine our efforts to bring discipline on our roads and arrest the carnage,” Magadzi said.

Zwane said body cams have been introduced within the National Traffic Police and the initiative has been welcomed by officers.

“They say this will protect them against accusations that they encounter at times from resistant motorists who refuse to cooperate with them,” he said.

The Department said the cameras will be a useful tool in dealing with high levels of bribery by providing a factual account of events.

It said the RTMC had taken a giant leap towards reinventing law enforcement by introducing a lasting solution to many law enforcement problems in the form of a body-worn camera to be used by officers.

RTMC chief executive advocate Makhosini Msibi said the cameras would help to alleviate allegations of corruption.

“This should be welcomed by both road users and law enforcement. For evidence purposes, we now have footage and not hearsay evidence,” he said.

Zwane added that it will take three years to roll out the cameras nationally.

“This technology is used widely in other jurisdictions outside South Africa and has been shown to improve the efficiency of law enforcement,” he said.

According to Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, the RTMC will also be investing in drones to assist in identifying hazards on the roads and to identify motorists who are driving recklessly and at high speeds.

Magadzi said officers will then be deployed strategically to respond using the live intelligence supplied by this technology.

“I must, however, hasten to add that consultations are still ongoing with the justice crime prevention and security cluster to ensure that evidence gathered through the use of these drones is admissible and leads to a higher conviction rate,” she said.

The use of body cams for officers is already in use in other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

READ: SANTACO partners with the National Liquor Traders to keep travellers safe this Easter

Fikile Mbalula/Twitter

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