UAVs to help fight and prevent crime on the way


The SA Police Service (SAPS) is turning to the sky for assistance with crime prevention in the form of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The soon to be acquired UAVs, more commonly called drones, became public knowledge thanks to a Parliamentary question asked by Freedom Front Plus (FF+) leader Pieter Groenewald.

He was told in a written reply signed off by Police Minister Bheki Cele and recently appointed National Commissioner Fannie Masemola “the process of purchasing drones is underway” with 168 UAVs on order to be delivered in three tranches.

Equipment to be fitted to the remotely controlled aerial platforms is not given in the official answer but, judging from planned use, will include cameras of some sort. “The drones will be used as part of policing, including in rural areas, as per implementation of the rural safety strategy,” Groenewald was informed.

Drone deployment over the three delivery phases is set to be at 43 localities, including specialised units, provincial and district operational command centres (POCCs and DOCCs) as well as what is termed “safer city projects”. “Satellite drone units” will serve “various police stations”.

Rural safety committees at police station and district levels will be able to request drones as part of rural safety plans, Groenewald, a long-time proponent of more and better police utilisation in South African rural – particularly agricultural – areas, was told by the SAPS top men.