New hi-tech facility helps police respond faster to distress calls.

From tomorrow night, calls by crime-weary Johannesburg residents to the emergency police number will be handled by a R600-million hi- tech Midrand call centre.

Brixton call centre previously handled Joburg’s calls.

Opened by President Thabo Mbeki in October last year, the centre has already been handling between 5500 and 6000 emergency calls every 12 hours from Pretoria, North East Rand, the Vaal and Soweto. Because of communication problems, the West Rand is served by a Krugersdorp call centre.

The head of the centre, Director Tirhani Maswanganyi, 46, said: “Immediate response to a crime is our priority.”

Within the next few months, the centre will also monitor the movements of police vehicles, once 7500 police vehicles from 135 police stations are fitted with automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems.

“Policemen going shopping with a state vehicle will become a thing of the past,” said Maswanganyi.

Already installed in 1064 police vehicles but not yet operational, during a test run in October, the system detected a policeman travelling at 157km/h on the R21, Senior Superintendent Sam Kilian, second-in-command at the centre, said.

“The policeman said he was pursuing a suspect. When we called him (the policeman) later, he told us he was at the East Rand Mall although we knew he was at McDonald’s in Boksburg. He admitted he had been caught out.”

the speed of the vehicle and the distance and route travelled;

  • how long the vehicle stood at a certain address; and:
  • whether the policeman used his blue lights.

Metro visited the centre on Wednesday.

At 3.10pm, Constable Florence Boshielo alerted police patrolling Diepsloot Extension 2 of a 022 Alpha, police code for a murder in progress.

Boshielo calmly directed police vehicles to the scene, a squatter camp.

While she was still on the phone, a supervisor confirmed that a complaint of an armed robbery at a golf estate was positive.

Call-taker Lindiwe Lephoto got three calls from a child in Kempton Park playing the fool.

Lephoto tried threatening the child. “I am going to send the police there,” she said.

Dispatcher Themba Mabena, 33, who speaks fluent English, Zulu, Ndebele, Sepedi and Tsonga , said complaints of housebreaking were “his daily bread”.

At least half the calls he handled on Wednesday were housebreaking-related.

physical address, telephone number and name of complainant;

  • information on the crime itself such as a description of the suspects, the vehicle used in the crime and its registration number as well as the direction in which it was travelling after leaving the crime scene;
  • description of possessions stolen; and
  • injuries sustained during the incident and whether an ambulance was required.